Published: Mon, September 24, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Russian plane downing in Syria will harm relations with Israel

Russian plane downing in Syria will harm relations with Israel

The incident was also the worst case of friendly fire between Russian Federation and Syria since Moscow's military intervention in the country in support of President Bashar al-Assad's forces in September 2015.

Russian Federation will provide advanced S-300 missile systems to Syria and directly link up with the air-defence network of its Middle Eastern ally, stepping up support for the regime of President Bashar al-Assad after the downing of a reconnaissance plane last week.

An Israeli official said the information showed that the Russian plane was shot down because Syrian batteries had "fired recklessly, irresponsibly and unprofessionally, long after our planes were no longer there".

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to seek to move past the incident in spite of strong statements from the Russian military.

A Russian plane was accidentally shot down by Syria as Israeli jets were attacking Assad regime targets in the war-torn country last week.

US National Security Adviser John Bolton speaks at a Federalist Society luncheon at the Mayflower Hotel, Monday, Sept. 10, 2018, in Washington.

'According to information of our military experts, the reason (behind the downing) were premeditated actions by Israeli pilots which certainly can not but harm our relations, ' Peskov told journalists.

"According to information of our military experts, the reason (behind the downing) were premeditated actions by Israeli pilots which certainly can not but harm our relations", President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists.

Russian Federation said Monday that it would equip Syria with sophisticated air defense systems, a move that could worsen a rift with Israel by limiting its ability to bomb across its northern border.

Earlier in the war, Russian Federation suspended a supply of S-300s, which Israel feared Syria could use against it. Mr Shoigu said Russian Federation is now going to go ahead with the shipment because "the situation has changed".

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Israel says it is determined to stop Iran, a longtime foe that has sent forces to back Assad, from becoming entrenched near Israel's northern border and prevent the transfer of advanced missile systems to Iranian proxies, including Hezbollah.

The decision, he said, was approved by President Vladimir Putin.

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. However, the Syrian military has already received training to use the system.

Shoigu said the supply of S-300s to Syria will "calm down some hotheads" whose actions "pose a threat to our troops".

'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. Israel, which has repeatedly bombed Iranian targets in Syria, had always been opposed to such deliveries, and Russian Federation has in the past abided by Israel's request.

Bolton said the USA would keep a military presence in Syria until Iran is no longer active there.

Putin informed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad about the missile delivery in a phone call on Monday, according to a statement issued by Syria's presidency.

But when the dust settled, blame fell on Israel. But last week's crash, which killed 15 Russian service members, had forced Russia to take "adequate retaliatory measures" to keep its troops safe.

Israel has fiercely lobbied against Russian Federation providing Syria with S-300 air defense systems.

For several years, Israel and Russian Federation have maintained a special hotline to prevent their air forces from clashing in the skies over Syria.

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