The downing of a Russian surveillance plane by the Syrian army last month continues to be a thorn in the side of Israeli-Russian relations.
Late last month, a Russian Defense Ministry spokesman cited Israeli “misinformation” as the direct cause behind the deadly downing of the aircraft off the Syrian coast last week and called Israel “ungrateful” for everything Moscow had done for the Israeli people.
On Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov came out against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent assertion that “Israel in the Golan Heights is a fact the international community must recognize.”
Lavrov warned that “any change in the status of the Golan Heights that comes without the United Nations Security Council’s approval is a violation of existing agreements,” according to a report by Russian news agency Sputnik.
Despite the diplomatic and security tensions, the atmosphere at the launch of the Israel-Russia Chamber of Commerce at the Biohouse at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Hospital, a center for biomedical researchers, was upbeat.
Speaking at the launch, Wednesday, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Maxim Akimov said that in the “very complicated and multipolar world in which we live today, it happens that countries that have ties develop different views on global problems.”
He said, “We sense the good spirit and strong will of our leaders to continue cooperation in the economic and social fields and continue the diplomatic dialogue concerning the complicated and difficult problems of the Middle East.”
Environmental Protection Minister Zeev Elkin, who is accompanying Akimov on his Israel visit, said, “Our responsibility – mine and that of Deputy Prime Minister Akimov – is to work on agreements and collaborations, and this is also the right way to improve relations between the two countries.” He said he was “confident that we will not only succeed in continuing the positive atmosphere that prevails in Israel-Russia relations, as has been the case in recent years, but even succeed in deepening and developing these relations even further.”
According to the Israel-Russia Chamber of Commerce’s Russian counterpart, the Israel-Russia Business Council, trade between the two countries continues to grow. According to official Russian findings presented at the event, bilateral trade increased 11 percent to $1.83 billion between January and August 2018 compared to the same period last year.