We learn from the news feeds that Vladimir Putin has ordered an advanced anti-aircraft missile defense system to be deployed in Syria. The S-400 Air Defense System, known to NATO as SA-21 'Growler', has arrived at at the Latakia Airbase, the Russian military operations HQ on Syria's coast.
With a range capable of taking down jets as far away as Tel Aviv and at altitudes of up to 90,000 feet, if launched from the heavily-defended airbase, the missile system is effective within an area covering most of Syria, southern Turkey, Cyprus, the eastern Mediterranean and much of Israel.
The missile system comes in three sections, with a central control point, a radar complex capable of tracking 300 targets and controlling six anti-aircraft missile launchers. .
The Russian military released photographs of the advanced missile system, which is understood to have a maximum range of 250 miles is capable of bringing down high flying warplanes which operate at more than twice the height of a cruising passenger airliner.
According to Russia news website Sputnik News, the S400 is the most advanced weapon of its type in existence and easily outguns anything in the USA / NATO arsenal.
'Growler missile systems (ringed) at Latakia Airbase, Syria (Image source)
Meanwhile US Secretary of State John Kerry said that prospects of progress towards a peace deal for Syria are unlikelt to be advanced at this weekend’s Syria peace talks. But he says the diplomatic effort to end the war cannot be abandoned. Kerry said that at the present time the elements necessary to forge peace may not exist, but "time and turbulence" can create new opportunities. However, he acknowledged that participants had to bridge vast differences to succeed, saying those involved are not on "the threshold of an agreement".
According to a leaked version of the latest draft Russian proposal, Moscow wants ally Assad to stay in office during an 18-month transitional period. For Washington and its Western and Arab allies, this is impossible.
"Asking the opposition to trust Assad or to accept Assad’s leadership is simply not a reasonable request. It’s literally a nonstarter,” Kerry warned. “On this point, I acknowledge that we are still working through with Russia and Iran the question of Assad and his role, this has not been settled."
Meanwhile, Russia accused the United States of trying to hijack advance negotiations for the weekend meeting. The charge was denied by U.S. officials. The dispute focused on U.S.A's assuming it would take the lead role in the talks, and was significant in reflecting the tensions between the two main players whose diplomatic muscle is key to hopes of progress. The intervention of US Senate' hawk Lindsay Graham who, as we reported earlier, has said the USA should shot down Russian aircraft that are attacking US military assets (US backed terrorists) in Syria probably did not help.
Kerry is due to join Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and counterparts from other nations that include adversaries Iran and Saudi Arabia on Saturday (14 November, 2015).
Barack Obama, reprising his role as 'The Invisible Man' of world politics (he's probably on holiday again, it must be all of a week since his last vacation) seems to have lost interest in the Syria problem, as he alwys does when things are not going his way.
(stirrer wide-body text)
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