Israel urges Russia: Halt sale of missiles to Syria and Iran
Israel and Russia sign military cooperation deal, a long-term agreement which may lead to additional Russian purchases of Israeli military technology.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak met Monday in Russia with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and with the country's defense minister, Anatoly Serdyukov.
Among the requests Barak made in his talks was that the sale of Russian missiles to Syria and Iran be halted.
Barak's meeting with the Russian prime minister took place at Putin's summer home in Sochi. Following that meeting, a statement said the two discussed the entire range of security and diplomatic issues, but no details were provided.
The Putin meeting was preceded by talks in Moscow between Barak and the Russian defense minister at which the two signed an agreement that lays the groundwork for Russian-Israeli military cooperation for the first time. The agreement provides for joint weapon development and exchange of information on terrorism issues.
Following the Moscow session, Barak said: "Russia is a central power in the world, and a very dominant and influential force in the Middle East," His Russian counterpart said: ""It's very important to us that in the transition to a new image, the Russian armed forces use the experience the Israeli armed forces have and the work they have done," Among other items, Russia is interested in purchasing Israeli-made unmanned aircraft.
According to defense sources, Barak asked his Russian hosts not to sell Iran
S-300 anti-aircraft missiles, which could greatly enhance the Iranians' aerial defense capabilities and complicate a possible attack on Iran, Israel is also trying to convince Russia not to sell Syria P-800 "Yakhont" supersonic naval cruise missiles, which is capable of precisely targeting ships.
The presence of the missiles in Syrian hands poses a threat that Syria would transfer them to Hezbollah, which could limit the range of maneuver of the Israeli navy off the Lebanese coast. Barak also spoke to his Russian hosts about Israel's concern over a rising nuclear threat from Iran and the need for a stronger sanctions regime against the Iranians.
After signing the military cooperation deal with Barak on Monday, Serdyukov suggested that the framework would lead to further purchases of Israeli weapons and technology.
"We have just signed a long-term agreement on military cooperation," Serdyukov said.
"It's very important to us that in the transition to a new image, the Russian armed forces use the experience the Israeli armed forces have and the work they has done," Serdyukov said, according to the Defense Ministry press service.
The ministry did not reveal details of the agreement, which was the latest sign of tightening ties between the nations. Russia has drawn closer to Israel since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, a supporter of Arab nations in the Middle East.
Russia, which is beginning to buy foreign arms as it struggles to improve its rusty military, has sought to build up a fleet of Israeli-made spy drones since Georgia used such Israeli aircraft against Russia in their brief 2008 war.
Serdyukov said Russia has bought 12 of the pilotless aircraft and is training 50 servicemen to operate them.
Israel has pressed Russia not to sell weapons to its foes such as Syria and Iran. Moscow pleased Israel by promising not to deliver S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to Iran while new U.N. sanctions over its nuclear program are in place.
"Russia is a central power in the world, and a very dominant and influential force in the Middle East," Barak told Serdyukov according to a statement from Barak's office.
It said he outlined Israel's main security concerns foremost the Iranian threat and Syria's armament along with its "support for terror organizations and Hezbollah."
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