Russia Prepares to Make Syria an “Anti-Access/Area Denial” Space

Anti-access/area denial (A2/AD in military shorthand) consists of layer upon layer of overlapping sophisticated and lethal surface-to-air missile systems. It is this shield that Russia is preparing to throw over Syria, to make the country almost impenetrable by aircraft or missiles
Moscow has cloaked the Crimean Peninsula with A2/AD since its annexation, like the Russian strategic Kaliningrad enclave on the Baltic coast.
The ramifications for the Syrian arena are far-reaching – signaling, first and foremost, that Moscow has no plans for an early military withdrawal from the war-torn country.
DEBKA Weekly’s military sources point out that, after A2/AD is in place, Russia will control an uninterrupted, 2,400 kilometers-long air defense chain, from the Baltic tip of northern Europe, all the way to Syria’s eastern Mediterranean coast via the Black Sea.
Moscow is preparing this project with four military steps:
1. The Tartus naval base is to be widened and additional antiaircraft missiles posted there. Until this work is completed in early 2017, the Russian guided missile cruiser Moskva anchored off Tartus will provide an air defense shield.
2. Russia will expand its naval presence in Syria and install S-300 and S-400 ground-to-air missiles at Tartus and Latakia and between the two Mediterranean ports.
3. New intelligence-gathering stations will go up along the Syrian sea coast and Turkish frontier.
4. Facilities will also be added for accommodating air and Spetsnaz (special operations) forces along the Turkish border.
Further escalation was indicated by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on Dec. 9, when he reported to President Vladimir Putin that Kalibr cruise missiles had been fired the previous day at ISIS targets in Syria from the Rostov-on-Don submarine in the Mediterranean.
Putin had this to say:
“With regard to strikes from a submarine, we certainly need to analyze everything that is happening on the battlefield, how the weapons work. Both the (Kalibr) missiles and the Kh-101 rockets are generally showing very good results. We now see that these are new, modern and highly effective high-precision weapons that can be equipped either with conventional or special nuclear warheads.”
Several Russian commentators took this to mean that, if the tensions between Russia and Turkey continued to spike, Moscow would not hesitate to place nuclear-tipped missiles on the Syria-Turkey border.
Their feud has been boiling since the Turkish air force shot down a Russian warplane on Nov. 2. According to our military sources, American and other NATO governments would not be astonished to find Moscow following through on this threat.
Tuesday, January 12, Shoigu announced two more Russian military steps for 2016: the establishment of three new divisions for the “western strategic front” – namely the Ukraine border; and five Strategic Missile Forces regiments to go on combat duty, all equipped with modern missile systems.

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