Will Russia Tolerate Iran's Actions Against Israel in Syria?

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Published on 23 Jan 2019, 17:49
PERSPECTIVES | Israel has conducted a handful of strikes this past weeks against Iranian targets in Syria. looking to discourage and halt any further Iranian entrenchment in Syria. Observing it all closely is superpower Russia, who has condemned the strikes. Will it stand by as Iran continues to import arms to Syria? Russian Ambassador to Israel Anatoly Viktorov answers Tracy Alexander.


Israel's publicizing of recent strikes against Iran in Syria — a break from its usual policy of ambiguity — is a political move related to the country's upcoming national elections, Russian ambassador to Israel Anatoly Viktorov told i24NEWS in an exclusive interview on Tuesday.

'The Israeli ministry of defense now makes immediate comments on any strikes at a very, very high level — and in our mind, this is very much connected to the election campaign,' Viktorov said, referring to Israel's April 9 vote in which incumbent prime minister and defense minister Benjamin Netanyahu will seek to bolster his security credentials as he campaigns for re-election.

'Whether it’s harmful, or how it contributes to the safety of our Israel, it is not our place to comment,' he added.Viktorov spoke to i24NEWS just one day after Israel attacked a reported 38 targets inside Syrian territory killing 21 members of forces loyal to embattled Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, including 12 Iranian Revolutionary Guards soldiers, and destroying both Iranian and Syrian infrastructure.

According to the Israeli military, which took the unprecedented step of publicizing the raids as they were underway, the strikes were a direct response to the earlier firing of Iranian missiles toward Israel from inside Syrian territory.

Israel has repeatedly warned that it would act to prevent Iran’s attempts to consolidate itself militarily in Syria and has sought the removal of Iranian forces from the country. But Iran is a major military ally for Russia in Syria and Viktorov has previously said that demands for their expulsion are 'not realistic'.

Russia is deeply involved in supporting the Assad regime in Damascus with logistical, diplomatic and military support and the Israeli strikes on Monday destroyed a number of Russian-made Syrian missile defense batteries.

Viktorov called Israel's activity in Syria 'intolerable and inadmissible,' a day before the Russian foreign ministry issued a similar warning that the Israeli strikes 'must stop'.

Viktorov confirmed to i24NEWS that Moscow has become increasingly frustrated with Israel's intervention in its war-torn northern neighbor, as it threatens normalization with Damascus.

Pressed on the issue, however, Viktorov could not say definitively what consequences Moscow's growing frustration might carry for Israel.

'We will continue persuading [Israel] to change their mode of operation,' the ambassador said.

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