Report: Russian forces move from Syria to Ukraine
Russia reportedly removed its S-300 air defense system, possibly opening new doors for Israel and Ukraine
Russia reportedly transferred troops and an air-defense system out of Syria recently, possibly allowing Israel to provide more open support to Ukraine.
The New York Times reported on Wednesday, anonymously citing two senior Western diplomats and a senior Israeli defense official, that Moscow moved some of its weapons and troops from Syria, thus removing one of the main restrictions on Israeli military action in the country.
There were various estimates on how many troops were moved, ranging from 1,200 to 1,600 soldiers to possibly far more.
According to the report, the Israeli official said that Russian commanders were also moved from Syria to Ukraine, a sign of Russia becoming less involved in managing operations in Syria as attention shifts to the invasion.
In Ukraine, Russia is mostly falling back as Ukrainian troops regain territory in the south and the east.
Israel has been accused of regular airstrikes in Syria, targeting bases of Iran-allied armed groups, such as Hezbollah, which Syria has relied on to fight rebels following the 2011 civil war.
Russia moved its S-300 air-defense system to Syria in 2018, creating fears it could be used against Israeli planes. These fears are a reason Israel has rejected providing Ukraine with offensive weapons and other military hardware, despite repeated Ukrainian pleas.
Now that Russia has removed this system, according to the officials, Israel could change its tune regarding Ukraine. However, Defense Minister Benny Gantz said on Wednesday that the Jewish state would not be delivering weapons to war-torn Ukraine "due to a variety of operational considerations."
Along with Russia's military presence in Syria, these considerations could include Russia attempting to limit Jewish immigration to Israel by shutting down the Jewish Agency within its borders.
Gantz is slated to speak with his Ukrainian counterpart Oleksii Reznikov on Thursday.