Russia Sends Syria Ships— and 'Ship Killers'

Moves seem designed to ward off international military intervention

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted May 17, 2013 7:21 AM CDT

(Newser) – Russia is reportedly sending military aid to Syria that seems designed to counter any attempt at military intervention from the US or other Western countries. US officials tell the New York Times that Russia has sent the regime new, radar-equipped anti-ship cruise missiles, weapons that could fend off an international naval blockade. To wit, one expert describes the Yakhont missiles as "a real ship killer." Russia has also sent at least a dozen warships to patrol the waters near its Syrian base, the Wall Street Journal reports. "It is a show of force," a US defense official says. "It's muscle flexing."

US officials responded yesterday by warning that Israeli airstrikes could target the missile shipments. The posturing comes even as the situation on the ground grows thornier; essentially the country has split in three, a dire front-page New York Times analysis concludes, with radical Islamists dominating a Sunni region in the north, Hezbollah and other pro-regime forces controlling the country's midsection, and Kurds staking out an autonomous region. "It is not that Syria is melting down," one analyst says. "It has melted down."

A Russian naval vessel is seen during military exercises in this file photo.
A Russian naval vessel is seen during military exercises in this file photo.   (AP Photo/Xinhua, Wu Dengfeng)
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