The three ships the Russians have posted off the Syrian port of Tartus are obviously meant to deter a NATO invasion. They won’t.
In any such operation, NATO jets would mostly provide air cover for rebel forces. Under no circumstance would the Russians shoot NATO planes. Three ships are woefully insufficient for even the smallest combat operation, but the main reasons are political and financial: the corrupt Russian government, whose leaders depend on the West’s turning a blind eye to their financial dealings, cannot afford a major confrontation with NATO.
Both sides are bluffing. Even if the Russians were to shoot down NATO planes over Syria, there would be no Western sanctions on Russia. But our bet is that the Russians won’t dare to intercept NATO jets because, in the end, an EU attack on Syria is no good reason for Russia to clash with NATO.
There is similarly no way that Russia would destroy NATO C&C centers in Central European countries to disable NATO’s ability to intercept Iranian missiles in the event of Israeli attack on Iran. While NATO would probably shrink from retaliating against Russian installations, such a daring provocation is beyond Russia’s current regime.