MOSCOW, October 8. /TASS/. Israel will continue air operations against Iranian forces and Lebanon's Hezbollah group despite Russia's delivery of S-300 missile systems to Syria, former Russian Ambassador to Damascus and political analyst Alexander Zotov told a roundtable in Moscow on Monday.
"There is a narrative in Israel, among experts, among political analysts and in the media, that is being fueled by statements of Defense Minister [Avigdor] Lieberman and even of [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu himself, that generally 'we [Israel] are not going to deviate from our course of responding to any actions by Iran and Hezbollah which present a potential threat to us, and no one and nothing can stop us'," Zotov said. "That is why many people in Israel think that there could be some kind of a demonstrative attack, maybe even at an imaginary facility, maybe far away from all those systems being deployed in Syria now, in order to avoid striking any facilities with Russian servicemen, in order to make it look like everything is fine and everything goes according to plan," he added.
The expert noted Israel should be able to understand how risky it is to carry out such operations without coordination with Russia. "In the situation when our air defense systems are given to Syria, the responsibility for retaliatory strikes will lie with Syrians, and we will thus get a room for maneuver," Zotov said. "Because what Syrians do represents a natural right of any country to defend its territory from an outside threat," he added.
According to Zotov, it was necessary to deliver S-300 missile systems to Syria because the activities of the Israeli Air Force in Syria posed a serious threat to air traffic between Hmeymim and Russia, while Israeli commanders were not transparent enough with the Russian military about their flights.
"First of all, it was emphasized in statements by our military officials that it is unacceptable for Israel not to inform us, thus violating existing agreements. Informing us one minute in advance does not count as preliminary notification," he said. "They [Israeli forces] did not tell us where they would operate, in what region. They just said they will operate in the north of Syria. That is, they practically tried to deceive us," he added.
"Secondly, this whole Israeli operation on delivering strikes at some facility belonging to Iran or Hezbollah was carried out in close proximity to our Hmeymim base which, as you know, is located to the south of Latakia," Zotov continued. "This created a real threat to a very heavy air traffic flow between Hmeymim and our country, including civilian, commercial and any other types of flights. It was impossible to put up with it, so our resolute response was justified and necessary, from this point of view," he noted.
Zotov reminded that the process of handing over S-300 missile systems to the Syrian army will take some time, and that the situation in Syria's airspace will not change quickly. "For now, we are talking about a process. We are not talking about an immediate shift in the balance of powers," he said.