Putin Warns Israel: Don't Send Deadly Weapons to Ukraine

Russian president's warning comes week after he lifted ban on delivery of S-300 missile defense systems to Iran.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Russian President Vladimir Putin.Credit: AP

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Israel on Saturday not to supply weapons to the Ukrainian government,saying that the move would be counterproductive to efforts to reach peace in east Ukraine.

"It's the Israeli leadership's choice. It's their right to do what they think is appropriate. If this is lethal weapon, I think it will be counterproductive. It will only lead to another round of conflicts, to a rise in the number of victims, and the outcome will be the same," Putin told the state-run Rossiya channel.

Some 300 U.S. soldiers are now in Ukraine to train local troops, the government in Kiev confirmed Friday.The Russian Foreign Ministry late Friday warned that the planned training was a "first step" to possible delivery of weapons.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov criticized the operation, saying that the presence of American soldiers was not helpful. "This is likely to destabilize the situation," Peskov was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies.

Last week, Putin signed a decree lifting a ban on the delivery of S-300 missile defense systems to Iran. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that in light of the progress in the nuclear talks between Iran and world powers, there was no longer a need for the embargo. "

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke on the phone with Putin for nearly an hour on Tuesday, and expressed Israel's disappointment with the latter's decision to rescind the ban on selling S-300 missile air defense systems to Iran.

"Regarding our [weapons] shipments to Iran, these are defensive weapons, that will in no way harm Israel's defensive capabilities."

Putin on Thursday defended his decision to resurrect a deal to sell missiles to Iran during his annual television call-in show, saying it increases security in light of the conflict in Yemen.

"Under the present conditions in the region, especially regarding events in Yemen, such arms supplies are a deterrent."

The head of the Iranian security council, Ali Shamkhani, on Tuesday said that Iran expects Russia to deliver the air defense systems by the end of the year. His Russian counterpart, Nikolai Patrushev, said delivery would take time. "It will depend on our manufacturers," he told the Interfax news agency. "I believe they will need at least six months to complete this work."

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