On Iran, Russia Is Closer to Israel Than 'What's Publicly Exposed,' Former Top Official Says

Former National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat says Moscow shares Israel's view of Iran as a destabilizing regional force

Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich
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Zeev Elkin, left, and Naftali Bennett speaking with Vladimir Putin in Sochi, in October.
Zeev Elkin, left, and Naftali Bennett speaking with Vladimir Putin in Sochi, in October.Credit: Kobi Gideon / GPO
Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich

Russia shares Israel's view that Iran is a destabilizing force in the Middle East, former National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat said on Wednesday, adding that Moscow's position on Iran is closer to Israel's than "what is publicly exposed."

Speaking at the Israeli Institute for National Security Studies' conference marking 30 years of Israeli-Russian relations, Ben-Shabbat, a senior fellow at the institute, said: "The Iranian issue naturally took up a lot of the time in the conversations we had with the Russians, especially the nuclear issue and also the daily examples of Iran's regional aggression."

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"I think that regarding certain issues, there is a shared view between us and the Russians, beyond what's publicly exposed," he said. "The Russians are striving for regional stability, particularly in Syria. I believe they would agree that Iran is the force challenging that stability."

According to Ben-Shabbat, the Russians "understand the maneuvers Iran is making through its proxies throughout the Middle East, in a way that challenges the quiet and desire for stability."

Meir Ben-Shabbat speaking at the Prime Minister's Office, last year.Credit: Amos Ben Gershom / GPO

Russia has close diplomatic ties with the Islamic Republic, and supports a diplomatic solution to Iranian nuclear enrichment. In an October meeting with Vladimir Putin, Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett asked the Russian president to reconsider his position on the matter.

Moscow has played a delicate diplomatic game of maintaining friendly ties with both Israel and Iran. In 2018, Moscow struck a deal with Tehran to keep its fighters away from the Golan Heights to accommodate Israeli concerns about the Iranian presence in Syria.

Russia is one of the international parties that negotiated a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. The deal fell apart after then-President Donald Trump withdrew in 2018. But President Joe Biden’s administration is now trying to revive the deal with other international powers — a step that Israel opposes.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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