|TEHRAN (FNA)- Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, while in Shanghai, was given a sharp dressing-down by Russian President Vladimir Putin, a warning that Russia would not tolerate further Israeli attacks on Damascus and would respond.
Putin did not say how, but he did announce he had ordered the acceleration of highly advanced Russian weapons supplies to Syria.
Israeli Debkafile’s military sources disclosed that the Russian leader was referring to S-300 anti-air systems and the nuclear-capable 9K720 Iskander (NATO named SS-26 Stone) surface missiles, which are precise enough to hit a target within a 5-7 meter radius at a distance of 280 kilometers.
In his phone call to Netanyahu, the Russian leader advised the prime minister to make sure to keep this in mind.
Since Syrian air defense teams have already trained in Russia on the handling of the S-300 interceptor batteries, they can go into service as soon as they are landed by one of Russia’s daily airlifts to Syria. Russian air defense officials will supervise their deployment and prepare them for operation.
Moscow is retaliating not just for Israel’s air operations against Syria but in anticipation of the Obama administration’s impending decision to send the first US arms shipments to the Syrian rebels.
Intelligence agencies in Moscow and the Middle-East take it for granted that by the time Washington goes public on this decision, some of the Syrian rebel factions will already be armed with American weapons.
That the measure was in the works was signified by the introduction Monday by chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Menendez of legislation allowing the US to provide arms and military training to the Syrian rebels.
US military instructors have been working with Syrian rebels at training camps in Jordan and Turkey for some months. So putting the arms in their hands only awaited a decision in Washington, the Israeli website alleged.
Putin’s message to Netanyahu was intended to reach a wider audience than Jerusalem, such as Barack Obama in Washington and President Xi Jinping in Beijing ahead of Netanyahu’s talks there Tuesday.
“Overall, already from this year, we plan to have 5-6 warships and support vessels [in the Mediterranean Sea], which will be replaced on a rotating basis from each of the fleets – the Black Sea, Baltic, Northern and, in some cases, even thePacific Fleet. Depending on the scope of assignments and their complexity, the number of warships in the task force may be increased,” Chirkov told RIA Novosti.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu earliersaid a decision to deploy a permanent task force in the Mediterranean to defend Russia’s interests in the area had been made.
The Russian navy commander also said nuclear submarines could be deployed in the Mediterranean, if necessary.
“Possibly. In a perspective. They [submarines] were present there during the existence of the 5th squadron. There were both nuclear and diesel submarines there. Everything will depend on the situation,” he said.
The Soviet Union maintained its 5th Mediterranean Squadron in that sea from 1967 until 1992. It was formed to counter the US Navy 6th Fleet during the Cold War, and consisted of 30-50 warships and auxiliary vessels at different times.
Russia also plans to use its Mediterranean task force for missions in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, the country’s Navy chief said.
“No doubt, if necessary, when some tasks arise in other nearby regions, in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, the task force may be used,” Chirkov said.
Now the Russian Navy is training officers who will perform their duties at sea on a permanent basis, he said.
“These persons must be comprehensively trained to solve tasks not only in the Mediterranean but also in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans,” he said.
The headquarters of Russia’s Mediterranean taskforce will be set up already in the summer of 2013, he said.
“The headquarters will be established in the summer of this year and its officers will stay aboard one of the flagships in the Mediterranean Sea,” he said.