The Russian military is showing unmistakable signs that their intention is to remain in Syria for a long time to come, an Israeli admiral told Army Radio on Wednesday.
As Navy Chief of Staff Rear Admiral Dror Friedman described the situation:
“You see their activities in the field and you see them putting down roots, you see their activities in the Port of Tartus and you understand that this isn’t the activity of someone who is planning to pack their bags and leave tomorrow morning.
“You can see this through the amount of weaponry, the equipment they are bringing, the bases they are building. You understand that they are thinking long term,” Friedman added.
His comments come just days after Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow where he reportedly told him that Israel cannot accept any peace settlement in Syria that would leave Iranian forces in the country. The official accounts of their meeting made no mention of the problem that might be posed by an extended Russian presence.
The Russian military presence in Syria has already affected Israeli military operations. “There have been instances in which we assessed the situation and changed or chose not to carry out operations,” Friedman said. He noted in particular the stationing of the Admiral Kuznetsoz aircraft carrier off the Syrian coast.
“When such a force is stationed here, our behavior changes,” Friedman said.