Can Russia curb Israel's actions in Syria?

25 September, 2018, 02:41 | Author: Clarence Schmidt
  • Iraqi activist Hajjar Youssif hands out masks to protesters for a demonstration last week in Basra

"We believe that the blame for the Russian Il-20 aircraft tragedy lies entirely with the Israeli Air Force", said Russian defence ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov in a press conference in which he revealed the details of the incident.

"According to information of our military experts, the reason [behind the downing] was premeditated actions by Israeli pilots which certainly can not but harm our relations", Peskov told journalists.

"A modern S-300 air defence missile system will be transferred to the Syrian armed forces within two weeks", he said, significantly increasing the combat capabilities of President Bashar Al Assad's forces.

Shortly after Moscow's announcement, the Syrian president's office said Assad received a call from Vladimir Putin and that the two discussed the latest developments, including the Idlib deal and the delivery of S-300s.

U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said on Monday that Russian plans to supply Syria with an S-300 missile system would be a "significant escalation" by Moscow and that he hopes it will reconsider.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Moscow had in the past obliged Israel by refraining from supplying Syria with the system. Russian officials said Syria's outdated S-200 systems weren't sophisticated enough to identify the Russian plane as a friendly one.

"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.

Syrian military members had already been trained to use the more advanced system, which was originally set to be sent over in 2013 but was held up "at the request of Israel", Shoigu said.


"We are certain that the realisation of these measures will cool the "hot heads" and will keep them from poorly thought-out actions which threaten our servicemen", Shoigu said.

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

The deterioration in relations between Russian Federation and Israel, along with a transfer of the S-300 system, complicates Israel's efforts to contain Iranian influence.

If delivered, the S-300s would further shift the military balance in Syria in favor of Assad as well as Iran and its allied militia Hezbollah, which have vowed to maintain a presence in Syria even though the war is winding down, over Israel's objections.

The Russian IL-20 surveillance plane crashed near Latakia in northern Syria. On top of that, the Russian military will start using electronic countermeasures to jam any aircraft that would try to launch attacks off Syria's coast.

Earlier on Sunday, the Russian defense ministry released the findings of its investigation into the downing of the plane and the deaths of the crew.

That changed last Monday, when Syrian government forces mistook a Russian reconnaissance plane for an Israeli jet and shot it down, killing all 15 people on-board.

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