The Russian government provided some much-needed release on Friday to the escalating tensions between Israel and Syria.
After Iranian forces within Syria were blamed for a 20-missile strike on the Golan Heights, the Israeli Defense Forces responded this week with a volley of rockets it claims wiped out all intended military targets in the neighboring country.
Israel and its allies had expressed concern that Russia planned to deliver a shipment of S-300 ground-to-air missiles to Syria in response to a multilateral airstrike last month. U.S., British and French military forces took part in that raid as a response to reports that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had once again used chemical weapons against the men, women and children of his own country.
Russia, a frequent Syrian ally, had reportedly considered supplying the nation with military equipment, though a top official was quoted on Friday confirming there was no such plan in place.
“For now, we’re not talking about any deliveries of new modern systems,” said Vladimir Kozhin, an aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The announcement came just days after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Russia in an apparent attempt to convince Putin not to go through with the delivery.
While some analysts credit this meeting as an influencing factor in Russia’s decision, Kozhin suggested the plan was already in place.
He said the specific deliveries being discussed “were never announced as such” by Russian officials.
“But we did say after the strikes that of course Russia reserved the right to do anything it considered necessary,” Kozhin said.
Netanyahu visited Russia on Wednesday, making him one of several leaders from across the Middle East to lobby Putin based on his unique connections with Syria and al-Assad.
Reuters reported that in addition to Netanyahu, Putin has recently welcomed the Saudi king and the presidents of Turkey and Iran to Russia for talks. The discussions reportedly hinged on Russia’s potential to further arm Syrian forces.
According to Kozhin, however, these meetings did not sway Russia’s decision and the missile shipments being discussed are simply not necessary at this time.
He said the military in Syria had “everything it needed.”
Other world leaders have called on Putin to use his influence within Syria to de-escalate tensions in the region.
After this week’s Iranian-led strike from within Syria, the U.S. and several key allies defended Israel’s right to protect itself.
As The Western Journal reported, British Prime Minster Theresa May’s statement included a desire to see Putin intervene in the situation.
“Israel has a right to defend itself,” a May spokesperson said on Thursday. “We call on Iran to refrain from any further attacks and for calm on all sides. We call on Russia to use its influence in Syria to prevent further Iranian attacks.”
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