Putin to Netanyahu: We don't believe IDF's story

Russian president tells Netanyahu his government does not accept Israeli claims regarding downing of Russian military aircraft over Syria.

David Rosenberg ,

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu

The Russian government has refused to accept the validity of Israel’s investigation into the downing of a Russian reconnaissance plane over Syria last week, doubling down on the Russian Defense Ministry’s statement holding Israel responsible for the plane’s destruction and the loss of all 15 crew members.

In a statement released Monday night, the Kremlin said that Russian President Vladimir Putin told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Monday that he did not accept Israel’s claims that Israel Air Force fighter jets operating in Syria did not use a Russian Ilyushin IL-20 spy plane as radar cover.

Putin spoke with Netanyahu over the phone Monday, days after the two spoke on the eve of the Yom Kippur holiday.

"The information provided by the Israeli military...runs counter to conclusions of the Russian defense ministry," the Kremlin said.

According to the Kremlin, the IDF was negligent in its actions during the Syria airstrike, and in its alleged failure to give proper warning to Russia regarding the impending strike.

"The Russian side proceeds from the fact that the actions by the Israeli air force were the main reason for the tragedy.”

The Kremlin also said Netanyahu emphasized again during the call Monday his sadness over the deaths of the 15 Russian crew members.

During the call, Netanyahu told Putin he had full faith in the IDF report, which found the Syrian military responsible for the shooting down of the IL-20, the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement Monday evening.

Last Tuesday morning, an IL-20 reconnaissance aircraft was reported missing over Syria, following an Israeli airstrike on a military research facility in northern Syria.

The plane, which was carrying 15 crew members, was later declared lost, after apparently being downed by a Syria surface-to-air missile.

Russian officials blamed Israel for the downing of the IL-20, saying the IDF had provided just one-minute advance notice of the impending airstrike to Russian Defense Ministry officials, adding that the Israeli fighter jets had used the IL-20 to draw the Syrian air defense network’s fire.

Israel denied the claims, saying its jets were already out of the combat zone and in Israeli airspace when the IL-20 was downed, and that the IL-20 had been far from the area of the airstrikes during the Israeli operation.

An IDF delegation was dispatched to Moscow last week to share information collected by Israel as part of its investigation into the incident.