Israeli President Reuven Rivlin brought up the issue with President Vladimir Putin during his visit last month to Moscow, and that Putin said it was the first he’d heard of the incidents, despite coordination between the two militaries, the Times of Israel reports.
Israel and Russia established a mechanism meant to coordinate between their air forces in Syria after Russia began carrying out airstrikes to help Syrian President Bashar Assad, who has said his forces are battling Islamic militants and other “terrorists.” Assad’s government often refers to all opposition fighters as terrorists.
The report said that the incidents were the reason behind Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s trip to Moscow Thursday to meet with Putin and Russia’s defense minister.
Hebrew media on Tuesday also reported an irregular aerial incident that occurred in recent days when Israeli fighter jets encountered Russian warplanes along the Syrian frontier.
Information regarding the alleged incident was limited, and reports Thursday were conflicting.
According to one account on the Ynet news website, a single Russian jet was scrambled to meet an Israeli military aircraft operating along the northern border. The report stated that it was unclear why the Russian fighter was launched. It noted that the two planes did not make contact and that the Israeli fighter continued on its course unobstructed.
A second report on Channel 2 news claimed that the incident occurred between Russian and Israeli squadrons, as Israeli jets flew along the Syrian coastline. The two fighter groups reportedly approached each other, and very nearly confronted each other. However, contacts between Israeli and Russian officials — through a coordination body set up last year — prevented a more serious incident.
Finally, Channel 10 military reporter Alon Ben-David appeared to combine the two accounts, tweeting Thursday that a single Russian jet was scrambled to meet an Israeli squadron over the Syrian coast. He too noted that the incident never became a full-blown confrontation, and that none of the planes had locked onto each other throughout the event.
Whatever the details of the occurrence, it appeared to have taken place several days before Thursday’s meeting between Netanyahu and Putin, which focused in part on coordination between the two militaries along the Syrian border, and which the Israeli premier called “very successful.”
Netanyahu said the two countries reached understandings over issues that had previously not been sufficiently clarified.