A Russian military plane carrying at least 15 passengers was shot down over the Mediterranean Sea on Monday by an anti-aircraft missile defense system from Syrian forces. According to Fox News, Moscow is mysteriously ‘Fully’ blaming Israel for carrying out an “intentional provocation,” despite evidence reportedly showing that Israel had absolutely nothing to do with the missile strike.
It’s unclear why Russia is blaming Israel, but many argue that such actions could lead to war. For starters, Syria hates Israel and has been allied with Moscow for years, so why would they shoot down a Russian military plane? Did Russia shoot down its own military plane in an attempt to exacerbate tensions and gain leverage in the region?
Or, maybe the Russian plane tripped over the Obama administration’s “red line.” Nevertheless, this could be very serious.
On Tuesday, Russia released a statement claiming its “Il-20 coot jet” was shot down by the Syrian defense after an Israel jet used it is a shield.
Here’s part of Russia’s statement on the incident:
“The Israeli pilots were using the Russian aircraft as a shield and pushed it into the line of fire of the Syrian defense. This absolutely does not correspond to the spirit of Russian-Israeli partnership. We reserve the right to take commensurate measures in response.”
“The U.S. was not involved in any strikes in Western Syria or in the shoot down of any planes tonight. I think it will impose very serious restriction on Israel’s freedom of activity.”
Russia claims Israel did not give any warning about its pilots being in the area for an operation until minutes before the strike, leaving the Russian plane no time to escape the Syrian defense systems. Moscow claims Israel is “fully to blame” and vowed that its “hostile” actions would have consequences.
Two interesting points stand out from Russia’s statement.
For starters, who gave the Syrian military — which is run by a dictator who has been bombing his own people with chemical weapons for years — missile defense systems? Secondly, who gave the Syrians the authority to fire at will when an Israel jet flies over the Mediterranean Sea?
As noted by Bloomberg, Israel said the Syrians are directly to blame:
Israel’s military laid the blame on Syrian forces, which it said “fired indiscriminately and from what we understand, did not bother to ensure that no Russian planes were in the air.” The warplanes were already back in Israeli airspace when “extensive and inaccurate” Syrian anti-aircraft fire hit the Russian plane, it said.
Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were scheduled to speak by phone later Tuesday, Israel’s Channel 10 television reported.
In Moscow, amid the anger, there were expectations the fallout may be minimized. While trust between the Russian and Israeli military will suffer as a result, the two countries “have a lot of common interests, especially in Syria,” said Andrei Kortunov, head of the Russian International Affairs Council, a research group set up by the Kremlin.
These are vital questions to understanding how this happened, why, and what could take place in the future. If the Russians are giving the corrupt Syrian regime missile defense systems, are the Syrians firing at will at the Israeli military?
Direct threats to Israel will not sit well with the U.S., which considers the Jewish nation to be its top ally in the Middle East.
But more importantly, some might argue that Russia will use this as an excuse to attack Israel, which would be a direct provocation to the U.S.
Time will tell what happens next, but many fear this attack could trigger a global war.