(April 26, 2018 / JNS) Russia’s ambassador to Israel Alexander Shein sought to downplay any tensions between the countries over Syria, such as Israel’s attack on the Syrian T-4 base earlier this month, saying that was not the reason for Russia’s proposed supply of the advanced anti-aircraft S-300 missile system to Syria.
“It is, of course, in our interest that these actions not take place, because they worsen the Syria situation,” reported Reuters. “We, of course, understand the reasons for Israel deciding to carry out actions of this kind, and would of course also prefer that these reasons not exist.”
On Monday, a senior Russian official told the Kommersant newspaper that Russia will provide Syrian President Bashar Assad with the S-300 system, while saying that if Israel attacks the air-defense system, then it will suffer “catastrophic consequences,” the official said.
A day later, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that Israel may strike the S-300 system if they are used against Israel.
“One thing should be clear: If someone fires on our planes, we will destroy them,” Lieberman told Yediot Ahronot on Tuesday. “What’s important to us is that the weapons defense systems that the Russians transfer to Syria are not used against us. If they are used against us, we will act against them.”
However, according to Shein, the S-300 proposal was a result of the April 14 missile strikes on Syria by the United States, France and the United Kingdom following its use of chemical weapons on civilians.
“I emphasize that the question arose in the context of Western aggression against Syria, and has nothing to do with Israel,” he said.
Shein also downplayed any risk of Israeli-Russia confrontation in Syria.
“I can’t imagine any such scenario,” he said. “We are mutually coordinating and updating about Syria. So far, there have been no incidents between us, nor even hints at incidents, and I hope there will not be.”