Moscow and Israel in 'Constant Contact' Over Downed Plane, Russian Official Says

Comments follow Haaretz report that the crisis between Russia and Israel over the downing of the Russian air force plane by a Syrian anti-aircraft battery is far from over

File photo: A Russian Air Force Ilyushin Il-20.
AFP

Russia and Israel are "in constant contact" regarding the downing of a Russian plane in Syria this month, Russian news agencies quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov as saying on Friday.

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Fifteen Russian crew were killed when an IL-20 surveillance plane crashed near Latakia in northern Syria on Sept. 17. Russia has said Syria shot the plane down shortly after Israeli jets hit a target in the area and blamed Israel for the accident.

On Wednesday, Haaretz reported that the crisis between Russia and Israel over the downing of the Russian air force plane by a Syrian anti-aircraft battery is far from over. Jerusalem is hoping that American intervention will help reduce the tension.

In the days following the incident, the Russians rejected Israeli attempts to send senior political officials to Moscow. That’s why in the end, a military delegation led by Israel Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin was sent. The Russian investigation into the incident and announcements by the Russian Defense Ministry focused on the Israel Defense Forces’ performance, blaming the IAF’s “lack of professionalism,” and even suggesting that the military misleads the Israeli government and does not obey its instructions.

Israel had initially wanted to send a delegation headed by National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat to Moscow that would have included representatives of the IAF and military General Staff. Russia rejected this suggestion. According to several sources, the possibility was raised that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman would go to Moscow to try to calm things down. Russia, however, preferred that the contacts remain at the professional level, between Norkin and the commander of the Russian air force.

Earlier this week Russia rejected the conclusions of the IAF investigation into the incident. On Monday night, after the holiday, Netanyahu spoke on the phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Russian media reported that Netanyahu had requested the conversation