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A Russian Il-20 surveillance plane was shot down off the coast of Syria by anti-aircraft weapons that were attempting to target Israeli F-16s. Fifteen Russians were killed in the attack.
Russia is blaming Israel for it, claiming it was their attack near a Russian base that resulted in the downed aircraft.
Russia blames Israel after Syria kills 15 in Il-20 plane in air battle
“The Israeli pilots used the Russian plane as cover and set it up to be targeted by the Syrian air-defense forces,” Russian media reported the Russian Defense Ministry as saying. “As a consequence, the Il-20, which has radar cross section much larger than the F-16, was shot down by an S-200 system missile.”
“As a result of the irresponsible actions of the Israeli military, 15 Russian service personnel perished. This absolutely does not correspond to the spirit of Russian-Israeli partnership,” the Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told Russian state media, Reuters noted.
“We reserve the right to take commensurate measures in response,” Konashenkov said.
This is troublesome for one reason and extremely concerning for another. It’s troublesome because it likely means Russia will want more direct involvement in Syria’s defense. When weapons it supplied are used to take down its own aircraft, the practical and predictable response is to either downgrade involvement or ramp it up. Russia will likely do the latter.
It’s extremely concerning because of the clear threat made to Israel. “Commensurate measures” can be read in many ways, but based on Russia’s recent history this incident will likely be used as a get-out-of-jail free card for them to use at the right moment against Israel. How that manifests remains to be seen.
Russia wants to establish a stronger relationship with Israel, but Trump’s presidency has made that less likely. Just as President Obama pushed Israel towards Russia, President Trump is pulling them back away. This makes for an extremely interesting situation, especially with the need for Israel to proactively defend itself from terrorism and military efforts against it.
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