Putin on Israel’s role in Il-20 downing: ‘Looks accidental, like chain of tragic circumstances’
“When people are dying – especially under such circumstances – it is always a tragedy,” President Putin said during a joint press conference with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Moscow on Tuesday.
Responding to a reporter’s question as to whether the incident in Latakia could be compared to the downing of the Russian Su-24 by Turkey in 2015, Putin said the two situations were “different.”
Ankara “deliberately downed” the Russian jet, he explained, while the Il-20 incident “looks like a chain of tragic circumstances, because the Israeli plane didn’t shoot down our jet.”
The incident has heated up political tensions, with the Russian military placing the blame for the incident on Tel Aviv. It said that the Israeli raid on Syria late on Monday had triggered a chain of events that led to the Il-20 being shot down by a Syrian S-200 surface-to-air missile. The downing jeopardized the reasonably good diplomatic relations enjoyed by Russia and Israel, casting doubt on whether these could be maintained.
Russia will investigate the incident, Putin said, adding that Moscow will boost security of Russian troops in Syria following the incident. He said that these will be “the steps that everyone will notice.”
Following Putin’s remarks, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said that he had notified his Israeli counterpart Avigdor Lieberman that Moscow “won’t leave Israeli actions unanswered.” He said the Russian jet had been downed by Syrian defense systems following their response to an attack by Israeli planes.
On Tuesday evening, Putin spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by phone. He urged Israel to avoid such incidents in the future and said that Tel Aviv’s military endeavors in Syria violate the country’s sovereignty.
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