Israel Concerned over Rising Russian Military Role in the Region
Asharq Al-Awsat 2 November 2016
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
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.