Putin: Israel didn’t down Russian plane, chain of tragic circumstances led to the incident
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that Israel was not responsible for the downing of a Russian military aircraft during a strike on Syria Monday night. “It looks like a chain of tragic circumstances because the Israeli plane didn’t shoot down our jet,” he said.
Putin’s comments were a shift in tone after Russia accused Israel earlier of a “hostile provocation” in striking the Syrian port city of Latakia, which led to the downing of a Russian military plane with 15 servicemen on board.
According to the Russian Defense Ministry, Israeli F-16 jets carrying out air strikes used the Russian plane as a cover to approach their targets on the ground without being hit by Syrian anti-aircraft fire.
When asked about comparisons to Turkey’s downing of a Russian aircraft in 2015, Putin said: “This is a different situation. The Turkish fighter jet knowingly downed our plane.”
The Russian president noted that the Defense Ministry’s statement, vowing a retaliatory response, was “fully coordinated” with him. “The retaliatory measures will be directed above all to boosting the security of military men and installations in Syria,” he said. “These will be measures everyone will see.”
PM Netanyahu spoke on the phone with Putin and expressed his condolences, but added that the responsibility for the downing of the Russian plane rests with Syria. He also reiterated that Israel is determined to prevent Iran from gaining a military foothold in Syria and thwart Tehran’s attempts to aid Hezbollah with lethal weapons against Israel.
“Israel expresses its regret over the death of the crew members of the Russian plane that was downed tonight due to Syrian anti-aircraft fire,” read the statement released by the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit.
“Israel holds the Assad regime, whose military shot down the Russian plane fully responsible for this incident. Israel also holds Iran and the Hezbollah terror organization accountable for this unfortunate incident.”
In a rare move, Manelis confirmed that the IDF attacked an arms shipment in a Syrian military facility, which was supposed to be transferred to Hezbollah and the Quds Force.
“These weapons were meant to attack Israel and posed an intolerable threat against it,” Manelis said.
“The Syrian anti-aircraft batteries fired indiscriminately and from what we understand, did not bother to ensure that no Russian planes were in the air. The extensive and inaccurate Syrian anti-aircraft missile fire caused the Russian plane to be hit,” Manelis said.