More Israel-Russia talks on Syria
HIGH-LEVEL MILITARY talks began on Tuesday in Tel Aviv between a Russian delegation and a team led by IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Major-General Yair Golan.
Both sides remained tight-lipped about the talks, but Israeli officers said the issues being discussed included the co-ordination of operations between the two countries’ militaries in Syria, including both air and naval operations and electro-magnetic communications.
The low-key and apparently cordial nature of the Israeli-Russian military engagement has been in stark contrast to what is happening on the other side of Syria.
Russian diplomats were called in three times by Turkish officials who wanted to complain about incursions by the country’s air force jets into Turkey’s airspace.
In all cases, the incursions ended quickly and without incident after Turkish F-16 fighter-jets were scrambled. But the incidents raise the concern that, as Turkey is a Nato member, Russia is using its deployment to Syria — to support the Assad regime — to challenge the West’s military alliance as well.
The Sukhoi bombers sent to Syria’s Latakia airbase by Russia last month have been carrying out air-strikes since the middle of last week, but despite the Russian government’s claims that
A man sorts through wreckage at the site of alleged Russian airstrikes on the town of Idlib, Syria, last weekend they were targeting Daesh bases, the location of most of the attacks were not in areas held by the extreme jihadist movement — they were generally against more moderate Syrian rebel groups.
This has stoked accusations that Russia’s true intentions in Syria are to prop up President Bashar al-Assad, who until recently was in danger of losing his last strongholds in Damascus and the Allawite enclave on the Mediterranean, rather than fighting Daesh.
Recent statements coming from Russia about preparations to join the ground fighting in Syria have also given ammunition to Vladimir Putin’s political opponents.
They accuse him of intervening in Syria to deflect attention from the lack of Russian progress in Ukraine.
All this is happening when the United States and other Western nations, including Britain, have yet to formulate a clear policy in response to Russia’s actions in Syria.
Meanwhile, Israeli officials seemed confident that from their country’s perspective, while Russia’s presence in Syria “was something we have to take into account”, it was a development Israel could deal with through the efficient Jerusalem-Moscow relationship which also allows it to monitor Iranian activity in Syria.