Russia responded to Israeli airstrikes against Syria on Friday by summoning the Israeli Ambassador. According to Syria’s Ambassador to the UN Bashar Jaafari, President Vladimir Putin told Israel in no uncertain terms that their freedom to act in Syrian airspace is now over.
Throughout the Syrian Civil War, Israel has repeatedly attacked Syrian military targets. Since Russia’s involvement, Israel had made a point to carefully keep the lines of communication open with Russia. It’s unclear exactly why, but the indications are that the Friday attack was very different, and a game-changer on several fronts.
The Friday air raid led Syria to fire defensive missiles at the warplanes, and for Russia to summon the ambassador, two things that never happened before. Though the results of that aren’t totally clear, Israel launched at least one more attack on Sunday, and has been issuing statements insisting they intend to keep attacking Syria, and that Syria had better not put up any further resistance to the attacks.
That Russia apparently did not react to the Sunday strike makes the Syrian Ambassador’s take on the Friday summoning a bit confusing, and the Israeli Foreign Ministry has been quick to insist that there was no second summoning.
What this all means is anyone’s guess, but Israel probably would not keep threatening to attack Syria if Russia had actually vowed to deny them access to Syrian airspace, as Russia’s deployment of anti-aircraft systems into Syria would make this fairly easy for them to implement against Israel. At the same time, Russia clearly didn’t summon the Israeli Ambassador for no reason, hinting that there may be limitations to future attacks, at the very least.