Russia Plans to Upgrade Syrian Air Defenses After U.S. Missile Strike

A man holds portrait of Russia's President Vladimir Putin (R) and Syria's President Bashar al-Assad (L) during a rally in support of Syrian regime in front of the US Embassy in Moscow, on October 19, 2012. Moscow has defiantly refused to take sides against Assad, and has slammed the West …
ANDREY SMIRNOV/AFP/Getty Images

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said on Friday that Moscow would “strengthen and raise the effectiveness of the Syrian armed forces’ systems of anti-aircraft defense systems” following the American missile strike on Syria’s Sharyat airbase.

Konashankov promised a “complex of measures” would be taken to “protect the most sensitive Syrian infrastructure facilities.”

The Defense Ministry also claimed the American strike was largely ineffective, stating that only 23 of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles launched by the U.S. Navy struck their targets. (The Pentagon provided a very different estimate, stating that 58 of the 59 missiles hit their targets.)

“The combat effectiveness of the US massive missile attack on the Syrian air base is extremely low,” Russia’s Defense Ministry insisted. According to the Russian assessment, six MiG-23 fighter jets and some structures at the airbase were destroyed, but the runways were not damaged.

The Russians also complained that America “obviously” prepared for an attack on the Sharyat airbase long before Tuesday’s chemical weapons attack.

“The preparation of such a strike is necessary to conduct a large range of activities for exploration, planning, preparation of flight missions and bringing the missiles into full readiness for launch. For any specialist, it is clear that a decision on the missile strike on Syria was taken in Washington long before the events in the village Khan Sheikhoun,” said the Defense Ministry.

The Defense Ministry accused the Trump administration of carrying out the attack “solely for domestic political reasons.”

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