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Top NATO general: Russia building anti-access bubble over Syria

An Israeli-Russian military working group is designed to coordinate Syria-related activities.

Russia is building advanced, long-range air defenses in its new air base on the Syrian coast, which could disrupt the military activities of the US and its allies in the sector, NATO’s top commander, Gen. Philip Breedlove, warned on Monday, according to a report that appeared in the Breaking Defense website.

Breedlove is Commander of US European Command, and the 17th Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) of NATO Allied Command Operations. He spoke of a new Russian bubble of anti-access/area denial [or A2/Ad, as it is known in the Pentagon] in the eastern Mediterranean. This can be used to try and keep Western militaries out of the airspace over and near Syria.

“From where NATO’s top commander Gen. Philip Breedlove sits, the Russian forces flowing into Syria don’t look like counter-terrorists out to stop the Islamic State, which Vladimir Putin has said is his highest priority. They look like the first pieces of a layered ‘anti-access/area denial’ system that could complicate US and allied operations in Syria and well beyond,” the Breaking Defense report said.

Breedlove spoke to the German Marshall Fund on Monday afternoon, and warned that anti-access/area denial is “a growing problem.” In Syria, “we see these very capable air defense [systems] beginning to show up,” the general cautioned, adding, “We’re a little worried about another A2/AD bubble being created in the Eastern Mediterranean. We see some very sophisticated air defenses going into these airfields. We see some very sophisticated air-to-air [fighter] aircraft going into these airfields.”

Two other such Russian “bubbles” already exist; In Kaliningrad, between Poland and Lithuania, where Russian missiles can reach “well into Polish airspace and could shut down NATO reinforcements,” and in the Black Sea, where Russia’s occupation of Crimea has resulted in the creation of a “very strong A2/AD capability,” Breedlove said.


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