In 1970, relations between Israel and the USSR were bad. Really bad. The Soviets were supporting Egypt against Israel. Their pilots were even flying Egyptian aircraft. On one occasion n 1970, they ambushed an Israeli aircraft and damaged it. To deter the Soviets from ever taking such action again, five days later the Israeli air force shot down 5 Soviet MiGs in retaliation. No Israeli aircraft were ever attacked by Soviet-piloted MiGs after that.
Fast forward 45 years later. We now share a border with the Russian air force, which is based in Syria. One of their fighter jets recently breached Turkish territory (after numerous warnings and demands by the Turks). What happened? It was shot down.
Well, it turns out that Russian aircraft have breached our territory, on more than one occasion. And what happened? (Lets remember that Israel shot down a Syrian aircraft last year after breached our territory). Well in the case of Russians, the only thing that were engaged were the phone lines, not Russian aircraft. According to Amos Gilad, director of the political-security division in the Israeli Defense Ministry:
“Russian air force pilots at times cross into Israeli air space. [But] thanks to the excellent security coordination [between Israel and Russia], which started right after the meeting between [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu and [Russian President Vladimir] Putin [two months ago], and in which defined areas of operation were set, the Israel Defense Forces and the Russian military agreed on security agreements,”..“If there is a violation [of Israeli airspace], we know what to do and how to prevent an escalation,”.
What about Israeli aircraft breaching Syrian airspace to attack Hezbollah targets in that country? Would the Russians attack Israeli planes during such operations? well, the statement below by Gilad makes the Israel – Russian agreement regarding the rules of engagement over Syria pretty clear:
“in understandings with the Russians, Israel has the freedom to operate to prevent the transfer of weapons from Iran to Hezbollah.”