Russian Ambassador to Syria Alexander Efimov warned Thursday that Israeli strikes in Syria are “provoking” Russia to react, in one of the strongest Russian condemnations of Israeli operations in Syria.
Efimov additionally complained that Israeli strikes aim to “escalate tensions and allow the West to carry out military activities in Syria.”
The statement comes amid the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, which Israeli officials have condemned. Israel has also provided hundreds of tons of humanitarian aid to Ukraine and opened a field hospital in the country.
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid stressed during a conference at Reichmann University on Thursday that Israel has had to balance its security interests in Syria, which are coordinated with Russia, with its moral obligation to Ukraine amid the Russian invasion.
“We condemned the invasion, sent a field hospital to Ukraine, but we must prevent the possibility that one Israeli pilot will be shot down in Syria and taken prisoner,” said Lapid. “Think what this will do to Israeli society. What will this do to our national security?”
Earlier this month, the Russian embassy in Israel said that it saw military coordination with Israel in Syria continuing, saying: “Our military officials discuss the practical issues of this substantively on a daily basis. This mechanism has proven to be useful and will continue to work.”