Russian Response to Downed Bomber
Russian missile cruiser Moskva (Blackcom 1), equipped with the Fort air defense system—similar to the S-300—a series of highly capable, long-range surface-to-air missiles, will be deployed off Latakia Province’s coast.
Russia plans to implement new measures aimed at strengthening the security of the Russian air base in Syria and bolster its air defense.
The strategic center of Moscow’s military operation in Syria—30 miles from the Turkish border, houses hundreds of military personnel and maintains bays for more than 50 aircraft.
In addition, fighter jets will now accompany Russian bombers in their mission against Islamic State targets in Syria. Before Tuesday’s Turkish warplane attack of the Russian Su-24M bomber, Russian bombers conducted missions without cover.
U.S. President Obama and French President Francois Hollande urged caution after the incident but sources report both Hollande and Obama suspect Russia was targeting the U.S. and Turkey backed ‘moderate opposition’ in Syria.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg reported that Russia’s attacks against the Islamic State are carried out in areas where the terrorists are not located; reinforcing the suspicion that Russia is actually targeting the ‘moderate opposition’ in Syria.
Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov last month stated that nobody had defined who the moderate opposition in Syria really is, “I don’t think anybody has yet explained what moderate opposition is, and Putin demonstrated quite active interest in the issue and asked in which way the moderate opposition was different from the immoderate opposition,” he said. Peskov said that Russia’s actions in Syria are transparent and that alleged reports of hitting other than Islamic State targets are part of ‘information warfare.’
Moscow stated that the downed bomber was not in Turkish airspace and did not pose a threat. Pilots ejected from the Su-24M and the Russian Defense Ministry confirmed that one of the two pilots was shot and killed while parachuting to the ground.
The Free Syrian Army says it shot down a Russian rescue helicopter while it was searching for the Russian bomber Pilots. The fate of the remaining pilot is unknown at this time and some fear he is in the hands of rebels. Other sources report that he was shot dead before reaching ground.