It appears that the fallout from the downing in September of a Russian aircraft over Syria, killing 15 crew members, has not subsided, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is getting the cold shoulder from Moscow.
The incident involving an Il-20 plane provoked outrage from Moscow, with Russia’s Defense Ministry blaming Israeli F-16 pilots, saying they “used [the Il-20] as cover.” The direct culprit of the crash was a missile launched from a Russian-made S-200 system.
The chill in ties comes after Prime Minister Netanyahu cultivated a publicly warm relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, culminating in high-profile visits to Moscow.
Now it appears that Putin does not have the time for Netanyahu after Moscow issued a public snub following Israeli reports that the two leaders would meet in Paris this month.
“The Paris visit’s agenda includes only one bilateral meeting, which will be with [US President Donald] Trump,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, per Tass news agency.
“Apart from that, Putin is scheduled to attend memorial events” marking the 100th anniversary of the World War I Armistice, Peskov noted.
Russia’s immediate response to the Il-20 downing was to announce the transfer of S-300 surface-to-air missile systems to Syria, an updated version of the S-200 systems already in use there. Israel has voiced its opposition to the deployment and said it would have no choice but to target the weapons should they target Israeli aircraft.