The recent deployment of the Russian troops on the Golan Heights, Syria, was unexpected as both Russia and Israel retain a good relationship. However, the decision of the Russian Ministry of Defense to allocate some of the peacekeeping troops (dubbed ‘Mirotvortsy’) seemingly opposes the recognition of the Israeli claims over the Golan Heights and inserts Russian troops into the conflict between the Syrian regime and Tel Aviv. Supposedly, it is an answer to the discriminate Israeli attack on the Shia militias and Syrian forces deployed on the Syrian-Israel border. Russians claimed it was prepared to retaliate against Israeli strikes if necessary.
The Russian Federation has some interest in preventing Israeli airstrikes over the territory of Syria. Moscow decided to bear the struggle of increasing its zone of influence to the Middle East. Syria is a key strategic partner to do so, especially considering its relations with Iran and the fact that Moscow and Teheran remain in an informal alliance to counter the United States’ presence. Besides this, the Russian military industrial complex can make some profits out of the conflict in Syria, selling much-needed equipment and weapons.
The significance of Golan Heights to the stability of the region cannot be overestimated. As a result of the Six-Day War (1967), Golan Heights were captured and occupied until their deliberate annexation in 1981. Since then, Syria continues its claims to the region and demands a restoration of the pre-1967 border. But besides Syria itself, Iran is the one who also seeks an interest in the deployment of some of its militias along the border with Israel, treating it as one of the main adversaries in the region, along with Saudi Arabia.
The complexity of the Middle East powder keg is increased by the Russian involvement in the conflict between local powers, adding tension to the already difficult situation. The presence of the Russian forces, however, did not stop the Israeli Air Force from conducting some of the deadliest airstrikes on the Syrian forces and Iranian militias of recent times.