Russian Federation missile sale to Syria is 'significant escalation': U.S.' Bolton

Charlene Craig
September 25, 2018

A Russian Defense Ministry spokesman said on Sunday that the Israeli Air Force and those who made the decision to use the Il-20 aircraft as cover are exclusively to blame for its crash.

"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", Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists.

Bolton was responding to Russia's announcement that it would give Syria's government the more modern S-300 missile defense systems after last week's downing of a Russian plane by Syria in a friendly fire incident.

There was no immediate reaction from Israel, whose government offices are closed for a Jewish holiday.

Putin and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad discussed the additional measures and delivery of the S-300 system on the phone on Monday, the Kremlin said.

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"We think introducing the S-300s to the Syrian government would be a significant escalation by the Russians", US national security advisor John Bolton said on Monday, adding: "and something that we hope if these press reports are accurate, they would reconsider".

Russian Federation launched its campaign in Syria to support President Bashar Assad in 2015 and though the involvement turned the tide of war in favor of Syrian government forces, Moscow has since played a careful balancing act, maintaining good ties both with Iran and Israel.

Russia claims Israel used their military plane as a shield to hide from Syrian air-defense, which Israel said fired wildly without identifying whether its target was Israeli or Russian.

"We are convinced that these measures will calm down some hotheads and keep them from careless actions which pose a threat to our troops", Shoigu said.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov told Russian news agencies that supplying S-300 to Syria is Russia's "own right" and expressed confidence that this would not hurt Russia's ties with Israel.

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Also Monday Putin told Assad of Moscow's plan to deliver the new S-300 air defense system, in the first conversation between the two leaders since the downing of the plane. "And it's not our fault" Shoigu said. Moreover, the Israelis misinformed the Russians about the location of their targets. It has long lobbied Moscow not to provide the S-300 system to Syria.

A Russian military Ilyushin IL-20 landing at Kubinka air base on June 3, 2011. An Israeli military delegation travelled to Moscow last week to share information about the incident.

"The Russian side proceeds from the fact that the actions by the Israeli air force were the main reason for the tragedy", a statement said. Israel flies missions with relative ease over Syria, given the latter's largely antiquated air defenses, and Israeli officials recently admitted to carrying out more than 200 bombing raids inside Syria over the past two years.

He said the warning time before the strike was "much longer than one minute".

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