A few days ago, The Daily Mail reported that Moscow had deployed S-400 air defense systems to Latakia. Here was the "proof":
And here's some color from the article:
Vladimir Putin has deployed an advanced anti-aircraft missile defense system to Syria with a range capable of taking down jets as far away as Tel Aviv.
The Russian military released photographs of the S-400 Air Defense System, known to NATO as SA-21 'Growler', at the Latakia Airbase on the Syrian coast.
The advanced missile system, which is understood to have a maximum range of 250 miles is capable of bringing down an aircraft at a maximum altitude of 90,000 feet - which is more than twice the height of a cruising passenger airliner.
Russian analyst Yury Barmin said on Twitter: 'Alleged S400 complex radar was spotted at the Russian air base in Latakia. Another "accidental" leak by Russia's MoD.
'By deploying S400 to Latakia, Russia sends signal to Turkey and Israel but also creates a shield over Syria's coastal areas.'
The S-400 is also able to intercept cruise missiles and other potential airborne threats.
It is also believed to be a major threat to military aircraft such as the RAF Tornado and the US Air Force F-15 and F-16.
The obvious implication there is that Russia has built up its capabilities at Latakia in order to threaten US, British, and now perhaps French fighter jets and maybe even to deter Israel from targeting Hezbollah.
On the one hand, it's not exactly like ISIS has an air force, but then again, do you really want to roll out your military hardware, build an airbase, and not have the capability to defend it when there are multiple nations (some of which are hostile) flying combat missions in the same country?
In any event, the Russian Defense Ministry has denied reports that there are S-400s in Syria. Here's what Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov told foreign reporters visiting the base:
"You had the opportunity to see everything here with your own eyes…There are no S-400s here, and never have been.
Before attempting to scare the British public and the world with the deployment of our S-400 air defense system here, they should have consulted Wikipedia or the site of the Russian defense ministry as to how this system looks like."
Well, because we'd hate for readers to get a similar scolding from Konashenkov, we present the following infographic which should tell you everything you ever wanted to know about the S-400: