24 APRIL 2018 – Russia could supply Syria with advanced S-300 missile systems in the near future, Russian military sources have told the Kommersant newspaper, warning Israel would “suffer catastrophic consequences” if it attacked the system.

The daily newspaper said experts believed Israel would react negatively to any decision to supply the missiles to Syria, and might bomb the area where they would be deployed.

“If Israel decides to carry out rocket strikes on the deployment locations of the S-300, the consequences will be catastrophic for all sides,” an unnamed military source said.

A Russian diplomat who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity said Israel has asked Moscow not to supply the Syrian military with the S-300s. An Israeli government spokesman declined comment.

On Monday, Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, said the Kremlin had not yet decided whether it would deliver the missiles, but would not make a secret of the matter if it took such a decision.

Earlier this week, Mr Lavrov said Western military strikes in Syria had removed any moral obligation Russia had to withhold the missile systems from its ally, Bashar al-Assad, according to the Tass news agency.

“We’ll have to wait to see what specific decisions the Russian leadership and representatives of Syria will take,” Tass cited Mr Lavrov as saying during a visit to Beijing on Monday.

“There is probably no secret about this and it can all be announced [if a decision is taken],” he added.

He said, prior to the US strikes on Syrian targets earlier this month, Russia had told US officials which areas of Syria represented “red lines” for Moscow.

US military action did not cross those lines, he said.

“Now, we have no moral obligations. We had the moral obligations, we had promised not to do it some 10 years ago, I think, upon the request of our known partners,” he added.

He also said he was convinced Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump would not allow an armed confrontation between their two countries.