LAST SUMMER, ISRAEL shot down yet another military drone near the line that separates the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights from the rest of Syria. The confrontation would have been business as usual, if not for a twist: Images of the destroyed drone showed Cyrillic tail markings and other identifiable components of a Forpost belonging to Russia. The findings presented an awkward geopolitical moment: Syria and Russia are allies, and Syria and Israel are bitter enemies — but the Russian Forpost shot down by Israel was designed in Israel itself.
How Israeli-designed drones ended up supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is a case study in the complicated relationship between Israel and Russia. Though Russia has been instrumental in protecting the Assad government, which appeared to be on the brink of collapse four years ago, it has also carefully cultivated a military relationship with Israel over the past decade.
How Israeli-designed drones ended up supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is a case study in the complicated relationship between Israel and Russia.
The appearance of Israeli-licensed drones in Russia’s arsenal has its roots in an entirely different conflict: the 2008 Russo-Georgian war. When the Georgian military shot down Russian jets, the loss of equipment prompted Russia to invest in the sort of sophisticated UAV program that other nations, like the United States and Israel, already had.