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Israel Concerned over Rising Russian Military Role in the Region | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Media ID: 55361324

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) meets with Israeli Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Kremlin in Moscow.
(Reuters/Maxim Shipenkov/Pool)

Tel Aviv- Israeli-Russian relations have witnessed tension because of the growing Russian military existence in Syria and the Mediterranean and the continuous Russian support for the Palestinian cause at the United Nations.

Political sources in Tel Aviv said that PM Benjamin Netanyahu has conveyed his concerns to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The subject was also tackled during a meeting held between Russian and Israeli officials at the Israeli Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem.

Sources said that Netanyahu talked with Putin ten days ago, and requested him to renew the conditions of the military coordination between them and to refrain from supporting anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish resolutions at the U.N.

They said that Amir Eshel, the commander of the Israeli Air Force, also visited Moscow to discuss military issues.
During their meetings, Israeli officials revealed their main political concern, which is the possibility of voting on the Israeli-Palestinian issue at the United Nations. According to a senior Israeli official, Tel Aviv has declared that it opposes any intervention in the peace talks especially from the Security Council.

However, Russian Deputy Foreign Ministry Gennady Gatilov said that the Israeli response concerning UNESCO’s resolution was emotional and unjustified.

Gatilov said that he asked the Israeli side to deal constructively with this resolution. He added that Russia maintains its efforts to hold a meeting between Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Moscow.

As per the military issue, sources said that Israeli army officials have been anxious from the growing number of Russian troops in the region. They added that this anxiety will never be declared publicly, but senior officers in both air and navy forces considered that the growing Russian role in the Middle East is dangerous and that the clash between Russia and Israel is a matter of time.

Israelis have focused in their discussions on the arrival of the Russian aircraft carrier the “Admiral Kuznetsov”, which includes 1,900 soldiers and carries 50 warplanes in addition to a wide range of advanced weapons. The carrier is also able to detect all security activities of Israel.

Israelis also considered that Russia, which announced a few months ago that it intends to withdraw from Syria, has increased the number of its forces with additional ground troops, aircrafts, missiles that can reach warplanes, drones, and ballistic missiles.

Moreover, the S-300 and S-400 missile systems will soon be available in Egypt, Syria, Russia, India, and Iran. To avoid any confusion, the Russian Defense Ministry spokesman has clearly declared that the Russian forces will target any unknown body which may threaten Russian or Syrian forces.