After the United States struck a missile blow on Shayrat airfield in Syria's Homs, many wondered why Russian sophisticated air defence systems, such as Pantsir, S-300, S-400, Buk-M2 and Tor complexes, have not protected Syria from 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles launched by Ross and Porter destroyers.
Predictably, Russian liberals and Ukrainian activists rejoiced at the US cruise missile attack by claiming that the US has thus showed its superiority over Russia.
However, military experts explained that Russian air defences were deployed in Syria in agreement with the legitimate Syrian government to protect Russian facilities - the airfield, bases, troops and infrastructure of the Russian Air Force.
In the past, Russia supplied certain air defence elements to Syria, but those complexes are maintained and operated by Syrian servicemen, who failed to respond accordingly. Russia could obviously intercept USA's low-flying targets with the use of Pantsir systems. Yet, Russia was notified about the missile strike in advance to be able to evacuate its military and civilian personnel from Shayrat airbase in case Russian citizens were present there.
Official representative of the Russian Defence Ministry, Major-General Igor Konashenkov, said that only 23 of 59 US cruise missiles reached the Syrian airbase.
"If Syria had used Russian air defense systems in response to the US missile attack, it would have triggered a nuclear conflict. Yet, it was only the composure of the Russian Commander-in-Chief that made it possible to avoid a nuclear conflict," Sergei Sudakov, corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Military Sciences said.
"The most important question that all are asking today is why Russia did not use its air defenses in Syria to shoot down US missiles. Most people believe that Russia should have done that to prevent USA's aggression in Syria. By and large, if Russia had started shooting those missiles down, we would have not woken up this morning. If Russia had responded to the USA, it would have launched a nuclear conflict - a clash of two nuclear powers on a third territory," the expert added.
"Donald Trump has come to the state known as "hot war," the expert concluded.
"Russian air defense systems are subordinated only to Russia. They protect Russian military facilities. Everything else is a PR that has nothing to do with reality. That said, we have Israel and Turkey bombing Syria every now and then, while Russia covers only its own military infrastructure in the country. I would not exclude that the Russian administration took a political decision not to intercept the US missiles, because it would have been a conflict between Russia and the USA on the level of air defence interception," military expert Vladislav Shurygin said.
The USA warned Russia of the cruise missile attack, and Russia warted Syria. Syria removed its personnel from the airfield before US missiles fell there. Russia made a wise move to postpone its response, and Russia will respond accordingly," he concluded.
It is worthy of note that the Russian Defence Ministry strongly denied rumours saying that Russia intercepted the US missiles that had not reached the target.
Read article in Russian