Can Russia Survive Her “Partnerships”?
Has Putin Made A Strategic Miscalculation?
Paul Craig Roberts
In an act of intentional deception, Israel used a Russian airplane to cloak an Israeli attack on a Syrian ground position, with the consequence that Syrian air defense missiles downed the Russian airplane with the lost of 15 Russian military lives.
In the words of the Russian Ministry of Defense: “The Israeli pilots used the Russian plane as cover and set it up to be targeted by the Syrian air defense forces. As a consequence, the Il-20, which has radar cross-section much larger than the [Israeli] F-16, was shot down by an S-200 system missile.” Russian Defense Minister Shoigu said: “The blame for the downing of the Russian plane and the deaths of its crew members lies squarely on the Israeli side. The actions of the Israeli military were not in keeping with the spirit of the Russian-Israeli partnership, so we reserve the right to respond.” https://russia-insider.com/en/russian-military-says-holds-israel-responsible-deaths-15-servicemen-reserves-right-respond/ri24780 See also: http://tass.com/defense/1022123
For a few minutes it looked like Israel was finally to be held accountable for its reckless and irresponsible actions, but it was not to be. Russian President Putin contradicted his Defense Minister by declaring the loss of Russian lives to be “accidental,” a result of a “chain of tragic circumstances.”
One wonders how Israel does it. President Putin covered up for Israel’s destruction of the Russian IL-20 just as President Johnson covered up for Israel’s murderous attack on the USS Liberty that resulted in 208 US Navy casualties. https://www.rt.com/news/438728-putin-israel-syria-plane/ As Israel gets away with everything, including routine massacres of unarmed Palestinian women and children, there is no reason to expect Israel to change its behavior.
Putin, however, might have to change his behavior or go to full-scale war. I have long admired and defended Putin’s refusal to escalate conflict by refusing to reply to provocation with provocation. Putin understands that he is dealing with irrationality both in Washington and the West generally and in Israel. He doesn’t want to see this irrationality erupt in nuclear war. Everyone should admire Putin for his rectitude. Nevertheless, when dealing with bullies, which is what Washington and Israel are, there is a downside to Putin’s policy of turning the other cheek.