Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Sunday: “We strongly condemn Israel’s military activities, which are a flagrant violation of international law. We strongly encourage Israel to halt armed provocations against the Syrian Arab Republic and refrain from actions that could have far-reaching ramifications for the whole region.”
Five people were “martyred” and 15 others wounded in an “Israeli air aggression, with waves of missiles, targeting areas in Damascus and its vicinity, including residential neighborhoods,” SANA reported early Sunday morning (Someone Attacked Iranian Facilities in Damascus, 5 Dead).
Russia has maintained a military force in Syria since 2015, to help the Syrian regime keep its grip on power. In the fall of 2022, the Russians redeployed part of its forces from Syria to the Ukrainian front, but still have a considerable presence in Israel. Israeli attacks on Iranian and Hezbollah targets inside Syria have been carried out with Russian consent, and there have been serious disagreements in the past when Israel dared to challenge Russia’s wishes. In September 2018, Russia blamed Israel for tricking Syrian anti-aircraft crews into downing a Russian Il-20 plane with 15 personnel onboard.
“Continuing such a vicious practice is absolutely unacceptable, especially while many countries, including Russia, are actively assisting Syria in dealing with the aftermath of the devastating earthquake, providing rescuers, doctors, and humanitarian supplies,” the spokeswoman said.
This change in attitude regarding what has been the norm in Israel-Russia understandings follows the visit of Israel’s foreign minister, Eli Cohen, to Ukraine, and his promise to President Volodymyr Zelensky of $200 million in loan guarantees. Russia is also angry at the Netanyahu government for failing to live up to its promise to transfer ownership of a Church courtyard in Jerusalem to the Kremlin’s favorite Russian Church.
It was difficult, nevertheless, to take the spokeswoman’s message seriously when she complained about the destruction of a home in Damascus and the killing of a Syrian civilian, considering the relentless Russian attacks on civilian centers across Ukraine.