Russia 'Reprimanded' Israel, US over Missile Launch
The Russian Defense Ministry reportedly reprimanded Israeli and US diplomats, following a joint Israeli-American naval exercise last Tuesday which involved the launch of a number of ballistic missiles, triggering Russian missile defense systems in the region and briefly provoking alarm in the Kremlin.
According to the RIA Novosti news site, Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov personally reprimanded the Israeli and American attaches to his country, over actions that "could have a negative effect on security in the region and the world."
Antonov had also vocally criticized the missile defense drill in the exercise's immediate aftermath. Speaking to reporters, he asked “is there any other region more volatile and packed with weapons today?”
“I don’t completely understand how someone could play with arms and missiles in that region today," he continued, “The Mediterranean is a powder keg, and a match is enough for fire to break out and possibly spread not only to neighboring states but to other world regions as well. I remind you that the Mediterranean is close to the borders of the Russian Federation.”
In contrast, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon downplayed the events, claiming that the drill had been planned "a long time ago."
Nevertheless, some analysts have suggested that the decision to forge ahead with the drill in spite of escalated regional tensions could have been a not-so-subtle warning to the Syrian regime and its allies, following threats by Syrian officials to attack Israel in response to a US-led strike on the Assad regime.