The Russian Foreign Ministry summoned Israel’s ambassador Tuesday afternoon, state media reported, as Moscow fumed over the Syrian downing of a military plane that it said was the result of an Israeli “provocation.”
The summons came hours after Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told his Israeli counterpart Avigdor Liberman that Moscow was holding Israel fully responsible for the downing of the aircraft and threatened possible “countermeasures,” amid fears the incident could send ties between Moscow and Jerusalem spiraling.
In the phone call, Shoigu told Liberman that Russia “reserves the right to further countermeasures” against Israel, according to the state-run Interfax news outlet.
Liberman’s office confirmed that the minister had spoken with Shoigu, but said it “would not comment beyond that.”
According to Moscow, at approximately 10 p.m., four Israeli F-16 fighter jets approached western Syria from the sea and fired dozens of missiles at the facility, a Syrian defense ministry subsidiary with ties to the country’s chemical weapons and missile programs.
Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told the state-run TASS news agency that Israel knew the reconnaissance plane was there and used it as cover to carry out the airstrike.
“By using the Russian plane as a cover the Israeli air pilots made it vulnerable to Syrian air defense fire. As a result, the Ilyushin-20, its reflective surface being far greater than that of F-16, was downed by a missile launched with the S-200 system,” Konashenkov said.