Russia said to constrict Cyprus airspace and waters as it boosts Syria activity
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Russia said to constrict Cyprus airspace and waters as it boosts Syria activity

Cypriot paper reports difficulties faced by local air and sea traffic in wake of Russian plane’s downing near Latakia, as Moscow announces increased operations for coming week

Russian Su-25 ground attack jets prepare to land after return from Syria at a Russian air base in Primorsko-Akhtarsk, southern Russia, on March 16, 2016. (Olga Balashova/Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)
Russian Su-25 ground attack jets prepare to land after return from Syria at a Russian air base in Primorsko-Akhtarsk, southern Russia, on March 16, 2016. (Olga Balashova/Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)

Russia has effectively sealed off much of the airspace and waters surrounding Cyprus, increasing its activities in the area following the downing of a spy plane during an Israeli strike in Syria, the island’s largest newspaper reported Thursday.

According to Phileleftheros, Moscow issued several notices to Cypriot authorities of heavy military activity planned in the region over the coming week.

The paper noted that the Russian operations will cause considerable difficulties for traffic moving into and out of the island.

Moscow has vowed to respond with new security measures to the friendly fire incident near Latakia that brought down one of its planes on Monday, killing 15 crewmen.

Illustrative: A view of the Cyprus coastline (YouTube screenshot)

The aircraft was destroyed by Syria’s Russian-made S-200 air defense system, as it attempted to respond to an Israeli missile strike.

The Russian military initially accused Israeli pilots of using the Russian plane as a cover, but Russian President Vladimir Putin later described the incident as the result of “tragic accidental circumstances.”

But Putin warned that Russia will respond by “taking additional steps to protect our servicemen and assets in Syria,” and Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov said that those will include deploying automated protection systems at Russia’s air and naval bases in Syria.

The Israeli military said its fighter jets were targeting a Syrian military facility involved in providing weapons for Iran’s proxy Hezbollah militia and has insisted it warned Russia of the coming raid in accordance with deconfliction agreements.

An Israeli army delegation led by Israeli Air Force chief Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin was to fly to Moscow Thursday to present the IDF’s findings on Monday’s incident.

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