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Russia And Israel – More Than Meets The Eye

Al-Etihad, UAE, October 1

The Russian threat to provide the Syrians with S-300 surface-to-air missiles has finally come into fruition. In fact, if we are to believe the statements made by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Schweigau, this move is just the first of several punitive measures carried out by Russia against Israel. Schweigau also spoke about providing the Syrian Air Defense with electronic warfare systems that would hinder the Israeli ability to operate freely in Syrian airspace. In the past two years, Israeli air strikes have destroyed nearly 200 Iranian sites and facilities in Syria, and have prevented the transfer of weapons to Lebanon. Tel Aviv has done so while losing only one fighter jet. This has been made possible thanks to a close coordination mechanism between Israel and Russia. The recent shooting of a Russian airplane with its 15 crew members on board will undoubtedly burden Israeli-Russian relations. Yet it is still too soon to jump to conclusions. The Russians view themselves as the ultimate patrons of Syria. They therefore seek to control all actors who have a stake in the Syrian situation, even when the latter’s interests are incongruous. When Moscow says that it is working to strengthen Bashar Assad’s regime, it is doing so not out of kindheartedness, but because such a move is intended to make the Kremlin’s policy successful. Similarly, while Moscow is busy punishing Israel, it is quietly expelling Iranian forces away from Syria at the very request of Tel Aviv. Putin tends to keep his cards close to his chest. Rarely does he reveal his true intentions to the public. There are those who gloat and celebrate the end of the Israeli-Russian love affair. I would advise them to be a little more prudent and wait to see what tomorrow brings. There is more in these relations than meets the eye. –Hazem Sagiyeh