As the problems in Syria escalate, the United Nations struggles to come to a decision as to what to do. The council is split, with China and Russia voicing their opinion that outside nations need to respect the sovereignty of the small Middle Eastern nation and let things play out as they will. This has resulted in a perpetual deadlock and a failure on the part of the UN to do anything for the country’s people. Now, Russia is taking it one step further by backing up its stance on the subject with actions. A Russian arms supplier is sending more defense to Syria in order to act as a deterrent against outside forces that might seek to get involved regardless of the UN’s official position.
The weapons being shipped consist of advanced missile systems used for defense against aircraft and ships. The Pantsyr-S1 is a radar-guided missile and artillery system that can hit airborne targets up to 12 miles away. Buk-M2 antiaircraft missiles have an even longer range. Bastion antiship missiles have a range of 180 miles and will be used to defend Syria’s coastline. Though these may sound intimidating enough, the arms dealer himself has admitted that the weapons are not top-of-the-line and are mostly being provided as a symbolic action to let the rest of the world know that Russia does not wish outside intervention. Neither do these weapons have the capability to be used against civilian targets - a highly volatile subject when it comes to Syria.
So if the defenses are mostly useless in a real fight against the advanced technology of the West and its allies, what is Russia’s point in all of this? Aside from the warning to outside forces to stay out of the Syrian affair, it may be that Russia is looking to make a friend in Syria and perhaps establish a more permanent military presence in the future. This is, of course, providing the standing government wins out in the crisis.
Though the United States has condemned the arms sale, they also happen to be a big customer of the same weapon’s provider that is making the deal with Syria. No action has been taken by the US to boycott the dealers, however, leaving the US in a hypocritical lurch as to whether they are supporting arms over human lives.
Whether the Russian deterrent will be of any use remains to be seen. As more massacres continue to plague the small Middle Eastern country, the international community is building momentum towards direct action. The presence of multiple super-powers straddling either side of the line in this conflict will likely maintain a stalemate position until something more serious happens, whether that be a much larger massacre that incites Russia and China to act, or a full-scale civil war.