Russian President Vladimir Putin says he’s supplying the long-range anti-aircraft missile S-300 to Syria despite pleas from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry not to do so...Putin argued that the S-300 is a “defensive” weapon and will help stabilize the region.
Israeli officials already have served warning that they will continue airstrikes against any target they perceive as weapons destined for Hezbollah in Lebanon, with the prospect that continued shipments of weapons could mean Israeli effort to topple al-Assad’s government. That prospect also could set off the Russians.
This shipment of S-300s is yet a further indication of Russia’s commitment to al-Assad, despite rumors that the Russians are seeking an alternative to his leadership of Syria in an effort to bring stability to the country for Moscow’s own geostrategic purposes.
Israel’s Channel 2 further reported Syrian soldiers completed their training on the S300 on Russian soil.
Two warships of Russia’s Black Sea fleet joined the country’s Mediterranean task force on Monday, a spokesman for the Russian Black Sea Fleet, Capt. First Rank Vyacheslav Trukhachyov, has said.
The Defense Ministry said in April Russia has begun setting up a naval task force in the Mediterranean, sending several warships from the Pacific Fleet to the region. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said in March a permanent naval task force in the Mediterranean was needed to defend Russia’s interests in the region.
"During a planned rotation, large landing ships Nikolai Filchenkov and Azov from Russia’s Black Sea Fleet have started performing their tasks in the Mediterranean,” Trukhachyov said.
It was the third day in a row in which shots were fired at Israeli forces at the same location and at roughly the same time.
In the past three months there have been 12 cross-border shootings toward the Golan Heights. Tuesday’s incident, however, marked the first time that the Syrian army has acknowledged firing at Israeli troops across the frontier, and appeared to be an attempt by President Bashar Assad’s regime to project toughness following three Israeli airstrikes near Damascus this year.
The chancellor said the pope had stressed the world needs a strong and just Europe, and she described the overall conversation has encouraging.
Merkel is currently campaigning for re-election in September's general elections. Half of Germany's population is Catholic. In Bavaria especially there is a strong conservative and Catholic tradition.
According to a Vatican statement, Francis and Merkel discussed the socio-political, economic and religious situation in Europe and in the world, including "safeguarding human rights, the persecutions faced by Christians" and religious freedom.
Francis blasted what he called a "cult of money" in a global financial system that ends up tyrannizing, not helping, the world's poor.
Asked whether they had also talked about the pope's recent criticism, Merkel said they spoke about the regulation of the financial markets.
Such statements echo liberation theology, an activist Catholic movement that was very present in Latin American slums, or , in the 1960s and '70s, and which was sharply disciplined by John Paul II and his theological watchdog, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger — the future Pope Benedict — for its Marxist overtones.