Russia has moved an array of S-300 anti-aircraft missiles from Syria to a Russian port near Crimea, according to an Israeli satellite imaging service, in an apparent bid to bolster its air defenses in its war with Ukraine, Reuters reports.
ImageSat International (ISI) recorded photos showing the presence of the S-300 anti-aircraft array in Masyaf, Syria in April and the same site now empty on August 25, after the equipment was shipped to the port of Tartus, the agency reported.
Separate images showed material of the array at a dock in Tartus between 12 and 17 August. By August 20 he had been removed and the ISI concluded that he had been transferred to a Russian vessel, the Sparta II, which left Tartus for the Russian port of Novorossiysk.
Data from the Refinitiv Eikon platform indicates that the Sparta II is currently in Novorossiysk, having arrived through the Dardanelles Strait.
The Russian Defense Ministry declined to comment.
If confirmed, the transfer would signal a major move by Russia to bolster air defenses near the theater of war in Ukraine, where its forces have come under devastating attacks in recent weeks, Reuters noted.
In one such incident, eight Russian fighter jets were destroyed this month in a series of explosions at an air base in Crimea. Ukraine has refused to say whether and how it carried out the attacks.