Russia Defends Iranian Attack on Israel

Latest Developments

Russia on April 14 defended Iran’s attack against Israel, blaming it on the Jewish state’s killing of an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps general in Syria in an April 1 airstrike. The Iranian barrage of missiles and drones targeting Israel “did not happen in a vacuum,” said Russia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vasily Nebenzia in a statement before the UN Security Council, but were rather “a response to Israel’s blatant attack on Damascus.” “Syria is constantly being bombed by Israel,” Nebenzia said. He accused Israel of displaying “an obvious disrespect” for the Security Council “and a complete disregard” for its resolutions.

Nebenzia then expressed appreciation for what he called “Tehran’s signal of unwillingness to further escalate hostilities with Israel.” He contrasted Iran’s position with Israel’s “practice of provocative forceful actions in the Middle East, fraught with extremely dangerous risks and consequences on the scale of the entire region, already destabilized as a result of the escalation of the Palestinian-Israeli confrontation.” In practice, Iranian leaders have repeatedly threatened to launch a stronger attack against Israel if the Jewish state retaliates.

Expert Analysis

“Russia uses Iranian drones to terrorize Ukraine, and Iran now uses Russian tactics to terrorize Israel with a mix of missiles and drones. Of course Putin sides with Iran — the ayatollah is his strategic partner.” — Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor

“Make no mistake, Russia is now Iran’s lawyer on the UN Security Council. The quid pro quo of drones, and soon to be ballistic missiles, for diplomatic stonewalling will only get worse. To offset this, Washington must work with international partners to snap back UN sanctions on Iran before they expire.” — Behnam Ben Taleblu, FDD Senior Fellow

“That Moscow would back the Iranians at the UN Security Council comes as no surprise. Tehran continues to aid Russia in its war against Ukraine, while Moscow is keen to exploit the Middle East crisis and resents what it sees as over-the-top Israeli airstrikes in Syria. While Israel was the intended victim of last weekend’s Iranian barrage, Shahed drones continue to bombard Ukrainian cities, and Ukraine may soon also face strikes by Iranian-supplied ballistic missiles. This is all the more reason why Washington and its allies must shore up Ukraine’s air defenses without further delay.” — John Hardie, Deputy Director of FDD’s Russia Program

Russian Pundits Back Iranian Attack

Russia and Iran have cemented their partnership since the Kremlin launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022. Tehran has supplied Moscow with thousands of Shahed drones, which have helped Russia devastate Ukrainian critical infrastructure. Iran may send ballistic missiles as well. In return, Russia is providing Iran with more advanced weaponry, potentially including Su-35 fighter aircraft.

Commentary in Russian state media overwhelmingly approved of the Iranian attack. Pro-Kremlin pundit Sergey Mardan, for example, expressed his hope that Iran would also shoot down Israeli fighter jets. He had previously crowed that the Middle East crisis would compel the world to “take its mind off Ukraine for a while and get busy once again putting out the eternal fire in the Middle East.”

Ukraine Condemns Iran’s Attack

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, by contrast, condemned Iran’s attack. “We in Ukraine know very well the horror of similar attacks by Russia, which uses the same ‘Shahed’ drones and Russian missiles, the same tactics of mass air strikes,” he said. Noting the “obvious collaboration between the two regimes in spreading terror,” Zelensky urged Congress to “make the necessary decisions to strengthen America’s allies at this critical time.”

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