Putin seeks to defuse downing of Russian plane off Syria

After Russian Military Aircraft Shot Down Near Syria, Russian Claims Israel 'Deliberately Staged This Provocation'

The Kremlin's readout of the phone conversation had Putin adopting a somewhat tougher line, reportedly telling Netanyahu that Israeli operations like the one in Latakia "violated Syrian sovereignty" and "agreements around the prevention of unsafe incidents".

In recent months, Israel has acknowledged carrying out scores of strikes in Syria, a lot of them believed aimed at halting suspected arms shipments for Hezbollah from Iran, its main backer and Israel's archenemy.

Although Russian President Vladimir Putin initially described the downing as "tragic chance", Moscow has made its anger clear.

Israel must provide Moscow with more information about the downing of a Russian military aircraft near the Syrian coast earlier this week, Russia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Thursday, the Interfax news agency reported.

Although Russian President Vladimir Putin acknowledged on Tuesday that there had been "a chain of tragic, accidental circumstances", he did complain to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that "Russian-Israeli agreements on preventing risky incidents had not been observed". -General Igor Konashenkov, chief spokesman of the Russian Federation Ministry of Defense, in a video statement.

While the downing of a Russian plane and the death of 15 Russian military personnel sparked a lot of anger, Putin seemed willing to absolve Israel, at least for now.


The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) recently stated that it had struck more than 200 Iranian targets inside Syria in the last 18 months.

Hezbollah has sent thousands of soldiers to fight alongside the Syrian government forces since the 2011 eruption of the civil war.

The IDF rushed to explain that their airstrikes targeted a Syrian army facility "from which weapons-manufacturing systems were supposed to be transferred to Iran and Hezbollah". It said the Syrian army launched the missiles that hit the plane when the Israeli jets were already inside Israeli airspace. The Russians claim that the Israeli Air Force used the Il-20 as cover under the assumption that the Syrians would not endanger a Russian aircraft.

Israel's Defence Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, meanwhile insisted that it would continue to target Iranian activities in Syria despite Monday's incident. 'The glue binding this gentleman's agreement - the Putin-Netanyahu personal relationship - will likely tide this issue over for the time being.' Moscow has played a delicate diplomatic game of maintaining friendly relations with both Israel and Iran.

"As far as the future of members of the moderate armed opposition is concerned, their status might be defined at the National Dialogue Congress which started in January in Sochi and has since become a key platform for the Syrians to work out a political solution", the Lebanese political analyst said.

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