According to The Telegraph, Russia is sending anti-aircraft missiles to Syria “after expressing anger over British-led moves to arm Syria’s rebels.”
The Russians were apparently outraged by the fact that Britain successfully fought the renewal of an embargo that had prevented them from arming the rebels sooner. With the embargo dead, British Foreign Secretary William Hague made it clear Britain could now send arms to the Syrian opposition.
Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov went so far as to say supplying arms to the rebels may violate international law: “In essence, this is an illegitimate decision and principle–to seriously discuss at an official level the theme of delivering or not delivering weapons to non-state parties contradicts all norms of international law.”
In light of this, Russia claims it is being “forced” to send the S-300 missile systems to Syria to keep Western “hot-heads” in check:
I can only say we are going ahead with it. We believe that such steps go a long way in restraining some “hot-heads” from exploring scenarios in which this conflict could be given an international character with participation of outside forces.
Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter @AWRHawkins.