Russia is taking serious steps to control Syrian airspace. After Syria shot down one of Russia's high-tech "Coot" planes Sept. 17 off the Syrian coast — using Russian-made missiles, no less — Moscow's plans to prevent other Syrian missteps by giving the country better weapons could drastically change the balance of power in the region.
The downing, in which 15 Russians were killed, resulted from Syrian anti-aircraft batteries attempting to engage four Israeli F-16s that were striking targets in the region at the time. A Syrian S-200 surface-to-air (SAM) missile accidentally hit the larger, slower Russian Il-20M surveillance plane instead of the Israeli planes. According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, the Israeli F-16s were using the Russian plane as cover. This is why Russia indirectly blames Israel for the incident.