Israeli military may continue operations in Syria despite condemning Russia

Despite the war between Russia and Ukraine and after Israel condemned Russia, Russia's attitude towards IDF operations in Syria remains the same.

 IDF paratroopers take part in a brigade drill at training area in the northern Golan Heights, on January 12, 2022.  (photo credit: MICHAEL GILADI/FLASH90)
IDF paratroopers take part in a brigade drill at training area in the northern Golan Heights, on January 12, 2022.
(photo credit: MICHAEL GILADI/FLASH90)

The Russian-Israeli deconfliction mechanism in Syria which allows the IDF to operate against Iran and its proxies will continue despite Jerusalem's vote to condemn Moscow's invasion of Ukraine at the United Nations General Assembly, the Russian Ambassador Anatoly Viktorov told reporters in Tel Aviv on Thursday.

The mechanism helps ensure "the safety and security of our army," he said.

Regarding the UN vote, Viktorov said Moscow understood Israel's concern for the safety of its citizens and the Jewish community in Ukraine.

He added, however, that Russia had "some reasons to expect from the Israeli authorities to understand better than others its decision" to act militarily in Ukraine.

On Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Viktorov said he had not been privy to the conversation. He said, however, he believed it was premature to discuss a role for Bennett as a mediator.

 A military plane lands onboard aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman, in the Adriatic Sea, February 2, 2022. The Truman strike group is operating under NATO command and control along with several other NATO allies for coordinated maritime manoeuvres, anti-submarine warfare training and long-range tr (credit: REUTERS/YARA NARDI) A military plane lands onboard aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman, in the Adriatic Sea, February 2, 2022. The Truman strike group is operating under NATO command and control along with several other NATO allies for coordinated maritime manoeuvres, anti-submarine warfare training and long-range tr (credit: REUTERS/YARA NARDI)

Bennett has been in conversation both with Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky since the start of the war last Thursday and has spoken of Israeli mediation efforts.

"It's too premature to discuss any possible mediation role" for Bennett, Viktorov said.  

Viktorov denied reports that the Russian military had attacked civilian targets in Ukraine accused the government in Kyiv of "unleashing terror against its citizens.

"We want to live in peace with the people of Ukraine," he added. 

Viktorov said that when Moscow spoke of Nazis in Ukraine, they were not referring to Zelensky, but stressed that his government had supported neo-Nazis and emphasized that antisemitism existed in Ukraine.

"We are not calling him [Zelensky] a Nazi," he said.

"It is disingenuous, however, to deny this just on the basis of the fact that Zelensky is Jewish," Viktorov said.  

"The Ukrainians are saying there is no antisemitism because our president is Jewish," Viktororv said adding, "come on" to show how little regard he had for that assertion.