The Russian ambassador complained that Israeli strikes aim to “escalate tensions and allow the West to carry out military activities in Syria.”
Russian Ambassador to Syria Alexander Efimov warned Thursday that Israeli strikes in Syria are “provoking” Russia to react, in one of the strongest Russian condemnations of Israeli operations in Syria.
Efimov additionally complained that Israeli strikes aim to “escalate tensions and allow the West to carry out military activities in Syria.”
The statement comes amid the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, which Israeli officials have condemned. Israel has also provided hundreds of tons of humanitarian aid to Ukraine and opened a field hospital in the country.
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid stressed during a conference at Reichmann University on Thursday that Israel has had to balance its security interests in Syria, which are coordinated with Russia, with its moral obligation to Ukraine amid the Russian invasion.
“We condemned the invasion, sent a field hospital to Ukraine, but we must prevent the possibility that one Israeli pilot will be shot down in Syria and taken prisoner,” said Lapid. “Think what this will do to Israeli society. What will this do to our national security?”
Earlier this month, the Russian embassy in Israel said that it saw military coordination with Israel in Syria continuing, saying: “Our military officials discuss the practical issues of this substantively on a daily basis. This mechanism has proven to be useful and will continue to work.”
In January, Syrian and Russian military jets jointly patrolled the airspace along Syria’s borders, including near the Golan Heights, with plans to make such flights regularly, the Interfax news agency quoted Russia’s defense ministry as saying.
In February, Russia stated during a meeting of the UN Security Council that it does not recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
The last Israeli airstrike in Syria was reported on March 7 when an alleged Israeli airstrike targeted sites near the Damascus airport and the Al-Assad suburb, with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) reporting that two of its officers were killed in the strike.
The IRGC warned a few days after the attack that “the Zionist regime will undoubtedly pay the price for such a crime.”