One day after Russia’s defence ministry blamed Israel for the downing of a military plane over Syrian skies, President Vladimir Putin has struck a more conciliatory tone.
Putin described the event as a “tragic chain of circumstances” on Wednesday following the deadly incident at the start of the week. His comments seek to diffuse prior assertions from the nation’s military that Israeli actions were the cause of the shoot-down which killed all 15 onboard servicemen.
Syrian air defence systems shot the plane down about 23.00 local time on Monday, the BBC reports. Russia’s defence ministry said Israeli jets had put the military plane into the path of the missiles by failing to give Moscow enough warning of an incoming strike on Syrian targets.
“We have informed today our Israeli colleagues, and I have also informed personally the Israeli Defense Minister [Avigdor Lieberman], that such actions will not be left unanswered by us,” Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday.
“The Israeli side didn’t issue a notification or, to be more precise, they warned us a minute before conducting the strike,” he said. “They told us they were about to attack facilities on the Syrian territory, and they did it.”
President Putin attempted to de-escalate the situation however in his first official comments on the military incident. “As for retaliatory measures, they will be aimed first and foremost at further ensuring the safety of our military personnel and facilities in Syria. And these will be steps that everyone will notice,” he said.
The downing reportedly occurred about 35 kilometres from the Syrian coast as the Ilyushin Il-20 aircraft was returning to Russia’s Hmeimim airbase near the north-western city of Latakia.
The Israel Defence Force (IDF) had previously expressed “sorrow” over the deaths, but stated on Twitter that it was not to blame for the incident.
The statement said IDF fighter jets were targeting a facility of the Syrian Armed Forces from which systems to manufacture weapons were about to be “transferred on behalf of Iran to Hezbollah in Lebanon.”
There has been no immediate comment from Syria’s government on the matter, Aljazeera reports.