MOSCOW, September 24. /TASS/. Russia’s decision to strengthen combat capacities of Syrian air defense systems are geared primarily to avert the threat to the lives of Russian servicemen, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday during a telephone conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
"Vladimir Putin stressed that Russia’s decisions to strengthen combat capacities of Syrian air defense meet the current situation and are geared, first of all, to avert any potential threat to the lives of Russian servicemen who are fighting against international terrorism," the Kremlin press service said.
The conversation was initiated by the Israeli side.
The two leaders continued to discuss the circumstances of the incident with the Russian Ilyushin-20 plane that was downed over the Mediterranean Sea on September 17, killing 15 Russian servicemen in light of the fact that "information about the operation of the Israeli air force over the Syrian territory that was presented by the Israeli military contradicts the Russian defense ministry’s conclusions," the press service said. "The Russia side is convinced that the tragedy was caused by the actions of the Israeli air forces."
The Israeli prime minister once again extended his condolences over the death of Russian servicemen in this incident.
Earlier in the day, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that within two weeks Russia would hand over to Syria an S-300 air defense system to strengthen Syria’s combat capacities following the loss of the Russian Ilyushin-20 plane over the Mediterranean Sea and the death of 15 servicemen onboard.
The Russian electronic surveillance Il-20 plane was downed over the Mediterranean Sea late on September 17 when it was flying back to the Russian airbase at Syria’s Hmeymim. According to the Russian defense ministry, the plane was shot down by a missile from a Syrian S-200 air defense complex when it was firing at four Israeli F-16 aircraft attacking targets in the Latakia governorate. The Israeli pilots actually hid behind the Russian plane exposing it to Syrian missiles, the ministry stressed.