Downing of a Russian military aircraft over Syria on Tuesday, which Moscow and Damascus have both blamed on Israel, appears to have strained relations between Israel and Russia.
In the early hours of Tuesday, Israeli F-16s entered Syrian airspace with a view to striking Syrian regime targets in the northwestern Latakia province.
When Syria's Russian-built S-200 air-defense system responded to the airspace breach, a Russian Il-20 military plane was struck by a missile, destroying the aircraft and killing all 15 servicemen on board.
In an analysis piece in the Hebrew-language daily Yedioth Ahronoth that was published yesterday, Israeli military analyst Ron Ben Yishai said that Israel would, in response to the incident, try to persuade Russia not to give Syria its advanced S-300 air-defense system.
"Netanyahu will likely persuade Russia not to carry out its threat [to deliver the air-defense system] in response to the aircraft incident," the analyst wrote.
According to Ben Yishai, the incident will not likely affect Israeli military activity in Syria, where Israeli jet fighters have struck Syrian and Iranian targets several times in recent months.
The analyst went on to assert that the incident would likely serve to enhance Russian-Israeli coordination in Syria.
According to the Russian Defense Ministry, Israeli pilots had used the Il-20 as cover in order to evade Syrian air defenses, thus making the Russian plane a target. "By hiding behind the Russian plane, Israeli pilots put it in the line of fire," read a ministry statement.
The Defense Ministry went on to hold Israel "solely responsible" for the incident, going on to accuse Israel of committing "irresponsible actions" in Syrian airspace. At a news conference held hours after the incident, Russian President Vladimir Putin attributed the incident to "a series of tragic circumstances."
Israel, for its part, denied any responsibility, instead blaming the Syrian regime for the incident.
"Israel holds the Bashar Assad regime, whose military shot down the Russian plane, fully responsible for the incident," read a statement released by the Israeli army.
The Israeli military also blamed Lebanon's Hezbollah group, a key ally of the Syrian regime.
In a Tuesday phone call to Putin, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was ready to provide Moscow with all relevant information regarding the incident, according to a statement issued by Netanyahu's office.
The Israeli prime minister also stressed the importance of maintaining a "joint mechanism" with Russia with a view to averting unintended military escalations in Syria.
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