‘SA-18 missiles will of course make it difficult to fly over the residence of the Syrian president,’ Russian President Vladimir Putin told Israeli TV channel one ahead of his next week visit to Israel.
‘It will make flying low difficult; it would end Syrian embarrassment over Israeli air force planes ‘buzzing’ presidential palaces in Syria to issue warnings to Syrian President Bashar Assad.’ He added.
Putin, who was implying that the Russian missiles sale to Syria was for defensive reasons, also said that the deal would not upset the balance of power in the Middle East.
Israel has been applying pressure to deter the Russians from making the sale, but Putin decided to go ahead with the sale.
To address Israeli fears that the missiles could reach the hands of Hezbollah or Palestinian resistance groups, the Russians promised Israel that the missiles would be vehicle-mounted, and impossible to convert into shoulder-launched rockets.
An Israeli official source harshly criticized Russia on Wednesday for its decision to go a head with the missiles deal.
‘Russia, which is fighting terror with one hand, is helping a state that supports ‘terror’ with the other hand.’ The source said.