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Syrian Missiles’ Attack on a Russian Airplane Essay

Summary of the Event

The world is rich in events and happenings. The growing availability of media sources makes the analysis of these events easier and more productive. At the same time, online and printed newspapers are turning into a major history-making tool. At the heart of this analysis is the recent attack against the Russian passenger airplane over Syria. On April 29, a Russian passenger airplane returning from Egypt to Kazan was claimed to have been attacked by two missiles, while crossing Syrian airspace. No one was injured or killed. The airplane had to gain altitude to avoid physical damage. It is due to their professionalism and immediate reaction that the pilots managed to prevent the catastrophe. The airplane successfully landed in Kazan without any delays. Today, the Russian authorities are still clarifying whether the attack took place. Meanwhile, the news has turned into a convenient instrument of political manipulations on a global scale. In 2011, Syria faced a tough political and military crisis, which is becoming more serious day by day. In case the missile attack against the Russian passenger airplane is confirmed, Syria may face serious political, social, and military difficulties in its relations with Russia and other countries.

International Issues Analysis

Politics shapes the ways in which news is presented to the audience. The case of the missile attack against the Russian passenger airplane is no exception to this rule. In this paper, eight articles published in different newspapers and by different nations are analyzed. They present a diverse and even controversial picture of the world, as every country has different political interests in Syria and the rest of the Middle East. These newspaper articles create a picture that resembles the map of political attitudes, interests, and goals across the world. As a result, the risks that historiography will become a matter of politics are quite high.

The discussed event took place when the airplane was flying over the Syrian territory, but it is the Russian airplane that was targeted. This is why it is worth analyzing what the Russian media have to say about the incident. Surprisingly, the Russian online newspaper “Pravda” provides only a brief insight into the incident. The article resembles a small formal report that lacks an evaluative angle. All the Russian media have to say is that, on April 29, 2013, a Russian civilian aircraft managed to avoid a missile attack while crossing Syrian airspace (Pravda). According to the newspaper source, the crew noticed certain combat actions from above and concluded that they could pose a threat to the integrity of the aircraft and the safety of its passengers. The Russian source seems to be taking great caution in the analysis of the situation, mainly due to its vulnerable political position in the Syrian question. The Russian Federal Air Transport Agency recommends putting a ban on civil flights over the Syrian territory (Pravda). The report presents the event as a fact that was confirmed, but the political implications of the incident remain unclear. Most probably, Russia will not take any political actions, until all aspects of the event are clarified.

No more colorful is the overview of the event presented in the American media. Huffington Post published a brief account of the event. The American reporters do not sound as confident as their Russian colleagues that the attack had actually occurred (Huffington Post). An impression persists that the American media do not want to make bold claims and provide information that has no valid proofs. This is why the newspaper refers to the Russian state tourism authority and insists that everything that happened to the Russian airplane is not supported by objective data. According to the Huffington Post reporters, it is the crew that believed in the missile attack and the dangers it could have posed to the airplane and its passengers (Huffington Post). Overall, the United States tries to maintain a disinterested look on everything that has happened in Syrian airspace. The Huffington Post reporters do not try to associate these events with any political concerns.

Many newspaper accounts present the case as an obvious and real fact. Some newspaper reports present information that raises many political and social questions. One of the most interesting is the report published by Elad Benari in “Israel National News.” Benari writes that “unidentified assailants fired two land-to-air missiles at a Russian passenger plane carrying over 150 people.” Benari further cites the words of the Syrian side, which confirmed the attack, although the Russian side does not say a single word about missiles. One of the main questions is how the Israeli media can be so confident in their descriptions of the event.

Do they have the facts and information, which are unavailable to other foreign media, or do they simply manipulate their political interests, especially when they say that Russia strongly opposes any military intervention in Syria? (Benari) By presenting the missile attack as a fact and creating a gruesome picture of the Syrian situation, Israel could readily push Russia to change its views on the possibility of Syrian intervention, but the information presented in this article needs to be checked. This is also the position taken by the Australian media: the reporters at “The Australian” remind that Russia does not accept the need for foreign intervention in Syria (AAP). Australian reporters sound much more cautious than their Israeli colleagues. They avoid using unproven facts, but it is clear that the Syrian question is on the country’s political agenda, and Australia would like to gain greater support in its striving to change the situation in Syria.

The most confusing and even unexpected is the news report published the Iranian “Press TV.” Interestingly, this is the only account of the event found in the Iranian media online. Press TV outperforms Israel National News and states that “foreign-sponsored Syrian militants have fired two missiles at a Russian plane with at least 159 passengers.” The main question is how the Iranian reporters can be so confident that the missiles were actually fired and, moreover, that they were launched by foreign-sponsored Syrian militants (Press TV). Another question is whether this information is valid or merely a convenient instrument of political manipulations. The European and western media avoid making any unreasonable claims regarding the origins and nature of the attack. Meanwhile, the Iranian media keep relying on the Syrian government, which reports that hundreds of militants operating in the Syrian territory are foreign-sponsored (Press TV).

Al-Jazeera adds fuel to this news fire, by saying that Russia has allegedly supplied Syria with quality weapons to help it stifle the two-year military uprising. Based on these two accounts, it is possible to assume that Russia could have been guilty of the attack that narrowly caused a passenger airplane crash in Syrian airspace: the weapons it supplied to Syria could have been used in the missile attack against its passenger aircraft. Still, most of these claims lack valid proofs. An impression persists that the Middle Eastern media want to make the incident serve the political interests of their countries, instead of trying to figure out what happened (and whether it happened at all) in the sky over Syria.

The western media look less biased in their discussion of the political event. Definitely, what happened to the Russian airplane is a matter of politics and not military opposition. It is also an international event because it involves more than one country. The two accounts of the event presented in Chinese and Serbian news create a more objective picture of the event – a picture that could be regarded as the most truthful of all presented in the international media. According to the news report in “China Daily,” there are no valid grounds to believe that the Russian passenger airplane was targeted by a missile attack.

Nevertheless, most of Russia’s airlines have already decided to avoid Syrian airspace because of the military dangers on the ground (China Daily). “In Serbia” news goes even further and refers to several; military officials in Russia and Syria who deny the fact of any missile attack. According to Serbia Team, the service responsible for monitoring Syrian airspace does not have any information regarding the missile attack against the Russian airplane. The Russian military experts do not confirm the incident (InSerbia Team).

They express doubts that a passenger airplane as large as A-320 could easily avoid a missile attack (InSerbia Team). Furthermore, they believe that the crew could not have seen any missiles (InSerbia Team). These military professionals suggest that planes are usually attacked from above or from the side, which means that the crew could not see anything (InSerbia Team). Meanwhile, if anything had been approaching the airplane, the crew would have been unable to avoid the plane crash (InSerbia Team). These newspaper accounts should make the international audience think about the validity of the crew’s claims regarding the incident. Whether Russia could invent the story to promote its political interests in Syria is unclear, but this possibility should not be ruled out.

News Reports of Today Become a Historiography of Tomorrow

The information presented in today’s newspapers will become the historiography of tomorrow. This information and the news articles analyzed in this paper will become an interesting and useful source of information about past events. The history professionals of tomorrow will be able to trace the trends and patterns in news presentation across different parts of the globe. It is through the nature and contents of news reports that the impacts of politics on public opinion will be explored.

The results of this news analysis suggest that future history professionals will have to be particularly cautious, when working with newspaper sources. The diversity of political interests and opinions surrounding the same event should not be disregarded. Even the confidence with which different reporters present their opinions matters. When the Iranian media speak about the missile attack as a confirmed incident and the Serbian reporters cite military experts’ doubts regarding the incident, history becomes controversial and politically-biased.

Many newspaper reports tend to emphasize only one side of the issue, and the side they choose is usually politically motivated and ethnocentric. Middle Eastern newspapers support the claim that the Russian airplane was attacked by Syrians and even suggest that Russia could have been guilty of the attack, since it supplied Syrian nationals with weapons to dissolve the two-year uprising (Al-Jazeera). Western newspaper reporters sound more cautious, either because they do not possess sufficient information or because they do not want to make any claims that could damage their national political interests in Syria. Russia is one of the few global leaders that strongly oppose any foreign intervention in Syria, and foreign newspapers often describe the missile incident in the context of Russia’s political reluctance to support the necessity of such intervention (AAP; Al-Jazeera; Press TV). Most probably, historians of the future will face considerable difficulties while trying to distinguish real facts from the claims and assumptions made to manipulate the world’s political interests.

Making Sense of News Production

The results of this analysis have created a very multifaceted picture of the world and its image through history. Such detailed accounts of major political events create an atmosphere of disbelief, because any two articles describing the same event may present controversial and even obviously contradictory facts. We are readers, and we rarely pay attention to what is written and reported in the foreign media. We tend to rely on the information presented in the national newspaper and television reports. We often forget that political interests reduce the power of the mass media as the fourth estate.

Now I see that newspapers can be used as a convenient instrument of public manipulation for the sake of the country’s political interests. Also, I have realized that we cannot judge the nature and implications of any particular political event, unless we witness it personally. When we say that the news media have a huge power over the reader, we should say that it is politics that rules the public opinion through the media. The only question I have as a result of this analysis is whether news media can be fully independent and politically unbiased. Based on what I have learned in this paper, the answer to this question will hardly be affirmative.


News sources help shape the picture of the world. The goal of this assignment was to summarize and analyze the way the same political event is presented in different national news sources. Eight different articles published in different countries were used to analyze the event. At the heart of this analysis was the recent incident with a Russian civilian aircraft that was presumably attacked by two missiles in Syrian airspace. The results of this analysis suggest that the history is made by the media, and the media are made by politics. Many newspaper reports tend to emphasize only one side of the event, and their choices are mostly ethnocentric and politically biased. For many countries, the incident in the Syrian sky has become a convenient instrument of political manipulations at a global scale. Historians of the future will have to be particularly cautious, while working with news sources. Many of them will eventually lose their faith in the news media as the independent, politically unbiased fourth estate.

Works Cited

AAP. “Missiles Target Russian Plane over Syria.” The Australian, 2013. Web.

Al-Jazeera. “Russian Plane Attacked in Syria.” Al-Jazeera, 2013. Web.

Benari, Elad. “Russian Plane Targeted by Missiles over Syria.” Israel National News, 2013. Web.

China Daily. “Missiles Fired at Russian Plane with 159 Passengers Flying over Syria.” China Daily, 2013. Web.

Huffington Post. “Russia: Plane ‘Threatened’ Over Syria.” Huffington Post, 2013. Web.

InSerbia Team. “Missiles Fired at Russian Airplane Flying over Syria, Experts Raising Doubts.” In Serbia, 2013. Web.

Pravda. “Russian Passenger Aircraft Escapes Missile Attack above Syria.” Pravda, 2013. Web.

Press TV. “Two Missiles Fired at Russian Passenger Plane over Syria.” Press TV, 2013. Web.

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"Syrian Missiles' Attack on a Russian Airplane." IvyPanda, 21 May 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/syrian-missiles-attack-on-a-russian-airplane/.

1. IvyPanda. "Syrian Missiles' Attack on a Russian Airplane." May 21, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/syrian-missiles-attack-on-a-russian-airplane/.


IvyPanda. "Syrian Missiles' Attack on a Russian Airplane." May 21, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/syrian-missiles-attack-on-a-russian-airplane/.


IvyPanda. 2020. "Syrian Missiles' Attack on a Russian Airplane." May 21, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/syrian-missiles-attack-on-a-russian-airplane/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'Syrian Missiles' Attack on a Russian Airplane'. 21 May.

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