The top US military officer on Friday condemned Russia's shipment of advanced anti-ship missiles to Syria, saying it could embolden President Bashar Assad's forces to keep fighting a bloody civil war.
"It's at the very least an unfortunate decision that will embolden the regime and prolong the suffering," General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters at the Pentagon when asked about the weapons shipment.
"So it's ill-timed and very unfortunate," he said.
There was no direct comment on the shipment from Moscow, although Dmitry Peskov, Russian President Vladimir Putin's press secretary, reiterated Russia's long-held position that it will remain "true to its contractual obligations under previously signed contracts."
One US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Yakhont missiles were delivered recently, although the precise timing was unclear. They fly at just over 2.5 times the speed of sound, have a range of about 300 kilometers (185 miles) and pack a huge punch from their 200 kg (440 pound) warhead, according to Nick Brown, editor of IHS Jane's International Defense Review.
"They are hard to detect and even harder to shoot down or decoy away, so they're a powerful tool for keeping warships a long way off the Syrian shore," Brown said.
It looks like the race to serve as the tipping point in the Middle East - that tipping point which will lead to the Isaiah 17 and Ezekiel 38-39 prophecies - now appears to be either the situation with Syria and the rising tensions between Russia and Israel vs. Iran and their nuclear progress (don't forget, Netanyahu has stated that his red line will be crossed late spring/early summer).
We'll see. Stay tuned - things are moving faster than ever in the Middle East powder-keg.