Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Ryabkov blamed US sanctions for the failure to secure a deal to move Iran's military assets in Syria to a line 100 kilometers (63 miles) from Israel's border.
“Russia tried, and partially succeeded, to diminish Iranian military presence in the immediate vicinity of the Israeli border and in the immediate vicinity of the Golan Heights. We wanted to go even further, to agree with the Iranians that they withdraw heavy weaponry more than 100 km away," Ryabkov told i24NEWS.
"It didn't work, because we wanted this in exchange for some suspension of the U.S. secondary sanctions to be imposed on countries in November, that would, you know, limit their ability to purchase Iranian oil. It never happened,” he added.
Russia suggested the withdrawal of Iranian forces to the line 100 km from the border with Israel in July. Israel has consistently maintained its demand that Iran must withdraw all military assets from Syria.
Ryankov also suggested that Israel's concerns over Iran's presence in Syria were overblown and "overshadows the actual reality on the ground."
The US reimposed on Iran sanctions that had been lifted as part of the 2015 nuclear agreement, including oil sanctions. The move was welcomed in Israel but angered Russia.
Israel's relations with Russia grew tense after Russian aircraft was shot down by a Syrian anti-aircraft battery following an Israeli airstrike in Syria in September. Russia's defense ministry held Israel responsible for the loss of the plane and its entire crew.
Ryabkov asserted that Israel-Russian relations remained "excellent" despite the incident. “I think more broadly we have an exceptionally good period in the relationship, for several reasons, starting from a very good chemistry between the leaders."