Former Russian diplomat Andrey Balkanov said in a June 19, 2022 show on Al-Jazeera Network (Qatar) that a confrontation between the U.S. and Russia is more likely in Syria than in Ukraine, and that American assessments about Russia withdrawing troops from Syria are "baseless". He said that to the contrary, Russia will send more forces to Syria if necessary and if the Al-Assad regime requests it. In addition, Balkanov said that Israel made a "mistake" by striking the international airport in Damascus, and he said that the best way to end such Israeli "tricks" is by shooting down Israeli planes with Russian air defense systems, like when Russian systems were used to shoot down Israeli jets over Egypt in the 1970s. Balkanov serves as the head of the International Affairs Department of the Federation Council of the Russian Federal Assembly, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Deputy Chairman of the Board of the Association of Russian Diplomats and he is a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia.
Andrey Balkanov: "The possibility of a direct confrontation between the United States and the Russian forces in Syria is far greater than in Ukraine. The situation is extremely dangerous. The assessment that we hear from the Americans – that the Russians have reduced their presence in Syria – is baseless. Russia will not reduce its military and political presence in Syria.
"On the contrary, Russia will introduce additional personnel, in order to exert direct military pressure, if it is necessary, and if the Assad government requests this from us.
"We believe that our colleagues in Israel make mistakes when they attack Damascus International Airport. In 1970, there was a confrontation with the Israeli air force in Egypt. We brought [to Egypt] air-defense systems and destroyed 12 Israeli Phantom planes. This ended the Israeli operation. Therefore, as far as we are concerned, the best way to end these Israeli tricks is to destroy the Israeli planes using advanced Russian systems, which are in the possession of the Syrian forces."