Russia Capable of Denying Israel Access to Syrian Airspace - Senior Russian MP

MOSCOW - Russia may take steps to prevent further incidents involving the Israeli Air Force jets and has all the capabilities to close Syrian airspace to Israeli military aircraft if it becomes necessary, a member of the Russian parliament's upper house's defense committee, Frants Klintsevich, told Sputnik on Sunday.

"The essence and meaning of our response is to completely eliminate the possibility of such incidents in the future. We, for example, have all the necessary resources to completely close the Syrian airspace for Israel, and this is only one of the options," Klintsevich said, Sputnik reported.

 The evidence released by the Russian Defense Ministry on the circumstances of the Il-20 downing left no doubt that the Israeli Air Force was to blame for the tragedy, the lawmaker stressed, adding that it was impossible to challenge this conclusion "based on an impartial minute-by-minute analysis of the facts."

According to Klintsevich, the list of gross violations of mutual agreements committed by Israeli pilots occupies more than one page and the ministry pointed to each of them.

"How will this tragedy affect Russia's relations with Israel? It is clear that it is up to the leadership [of Russia] how to address this issue, and I can only make assumptions. I think that the decision will be made taking into account the long-standing good relations between Russia and Israel, and therefore a sharp u-turn like the abolition of a visa-free regime, not to mention something more serious, is hardly possible here," he said.

In general, Klintsevich believes that much will depend on Israel's reaction to the conclusions of the Russian Defense Ministry.

"In connection with this, I consider the statement of Israeli "Defense" Minister [Avigdor Lieberman], who said today that the attacks on Syria would continue, to be counter-productive. This rhetoric can only aggravate the situation, I do not think that this development of events meets the interests of Israel," the Russian lawmaker concluded.

Russian Defense Ministry's Statement on Il-20 Downing Justified, Balanced – Sherin

Meantime, Alexander Sherin, a senior Russian lawmaker old Sputnik that the Russian Defense Ministry's Sunday statement putting all the blame for the downing of Russia's Il-20 reconnaissance aircraft in Syria on the Israeli Air Force is justified and balanced.

"I completely trust the opinion of the Russian Defense Ministry. Any measures it will take should be supported both by the public and the media… The Defense Ministry makes very, very balanced final decisions [on anything]. It would be wrong to fault the ministry for taking impulsive, rash acts. Therefore, if the Defense Ministry made such statement [on Israeli responsibility], then it had a good reason for this, which cannot always be officially announced," Sherin, first deputy chairman of the Russian parliament's lower house's defense committee, said.

"If [Israel] sees that Russia is engaged in putting things in order in Syria, then there is no need to heat up the situation," he explained.

H.M

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