Russia, who has a strategic relationship with both Israel and Iran, has delivered a modern S-300 surface-to-air missile system capable of shooting down Israeli planes.
The inflammatory move comes after a Russian II-20 surveillance plane was accidentally struck down by Syrian government anti-aircraft fire in September.
The Syrian forces were responding to an Israeli air raid against a suspected weapons depot linked to Iran in western Syria.
Moscow blamed Israel for the incident, claiming the Israeli military did not give Russian forces enough warning for the surprise attack.
US envoy to Syria James Jeffrey said yesterday the US were betting on Russia and Israel’s relationship to remain despite the incident.
He said: “We are concerned very much about the S-300 system being deployed to Syria.
“The issue is at the detail level. Who will control it? What role will it play?
“In the past, Russia has been permissive in consultation with the Israelis about Israeli strikes against Iranian targets inside Syria.
“We certainly hope that permissive approach will continue.”
Mr Netanyahu has vowed to continue strikes, as has his Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
Indeed reports have emerged that allege Israeli forces have conducted such operations since the II-30 downing.
Whilst Russia and Iran have backed the Syrian government in the civil war, Israel has joined the US and other allies, including Turkey and Saudi Arabia, in supporting rebel groups who oppose President Bashar al-Assad.
Any reduction in their involvement in supporting the US in the conflict would be a major boost to Russia in their dominance of the country.
Russia has so far tried to balance its relations with arch-enemies Israel and Iran but the downing of its aircraft, on top of the 200 Israeli attacks on Iran positions on Syria, has increased tensions.
Israeli environmental protection minister Zeev Elkin called the S-300 deployment a “big mistake” claiming the Syrian military do not know how to properly use the equipment.
He added “practical actions” would be taken if the S-300 sites should Israel aircraft be targeted on Israeli territory.
Mr Elkin added: “I really hope that there will be no Russian specialists at the S-300 sites” and said he thought that “the Iranians repeatedly use the Russian military as a human shield”.
Source : EXPRESS