Russian plane downing in Syria will harm relations with Israel

Geraldine Edwards
September 25, 2018

Shoigu's ministry angrily blamed Israel, accusing the country's military of using the Russian plane as a cover to dodge Syrian air-defense systems.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Monday said the incident was caused by "premeditated" actions by Israeli pilots, warning that this will harm relations between the two countries.

But when the dust settled, blame fell on Israel.

In a televised address, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that the new system would provide "adequate retaliatory measures to increase the safety of Russian military fighting worldwide terrorism in Syria". But now Russian Federation holds Israel responsible for the downing of the plane.

"In regions near Syria over the Mediterranean Sea, there will be radio-electronic suppression of satellite navigation, on-board radar systems and communication systems of military aviation attacking objects on Syrian territory". Israel flies missions with relative ease over Syria, given the latter's largely antiquated air defenses, and Israeli officials recently admitted to carrying out more than 200 bombing raids inside Syria over the past two years. However, the Syrian military has already received training to use the system. "We're confident that these measures will cool "hot heads" and prevent thoughtless moves that threaten our servicemen", he said.

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'Russia in this case is acting in its interests only, these actions are not directed against third countries, but towards defending our own military, ' he said.

Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said that supplying S-300s to Syria is Russia's "right" and voiced confidence that this would not hurt Russian ties with Israel.

But after the downing of the plane last week, "the situation has changed", Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said in an address carried live on national television.

In a statement on September 24, the Kremlin said that Putin told Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of the decision during a telephone conversation initiated by Assad.

But last week's crash, which killed 15 Russian service members, had forced Moscow to take "adequate retaliatory measures" to keep its troops safe.

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Israel, which carries out regular strikes in Syria targeting the militant group Hezbollah, is staunchly opposed to the upgrading of Syria's air defenses. "It doesn't matter if it's an S-300 or an S-700", he said. It has long lobbied Moscow not to provide the S-300 to Syria.

Russian Federation in April had hinted that it would supply the S-300 to Assad's regime despite Israeli objections.

In fact, the Israeli jets were in Latakia, in Syria's west and used the Russian Il-20 as a shield to bypass Syrian government forces' radar systems, the spokesman said.

"The command posts of Syrian air defense forces and units will be equipped with automated control systems only supplied to the Russian armed forces".

Earlier, the Russian MoD presented a minute-by-minute timeline of the Il-20 downing.

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