Report: Russia Expelled Israeli Military Attaché After Three Warnings

Russian newspaper reports that Russian Foreign Ministry warned Israeli Air Force Colonel Vadim Leiderman as early as November 2009 to desist from activities that violate diplomatic agreements.

The Israeli military attaché to Russia, Air Force Colonel Vadim Leiderman, was deported after receiving three separate warnings from Russian authorities, a Moscow newspaper reported on Monday.

According to the report in Komsomolskaya Pravda, Liederman contacted Russian military officials without first coordinating them with the Russian Foreign Ministry.

Vadim Leiderman
Assaf Shilo / Israel Sun

The report said that Russia warned the Israeli Embassy in Moscow several times that Leiderman had violated the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. The first warning is said to have been given in November 2009, the second in April 2010, and the third in December 2010.

After the three warnings were given, Israeli diplomats are said to have promised that all of the actions of the military attaché would be in strict compliance with the Vienna Convention.

Russia's FSB, the equivalent of Israel's Shin Bet security service but with far greater influence and power, told the local media that Leiderman was expelled because of his attempts to acquire secret information on military sales to Arab states.

The newspaper Izvestiya reported that Leiderman may have been particularly interested in Russian arms sales to Syria. In its statement, the FSB said that it had "impregnable evidence" of the "illegal activities in our country, whose substance was to recruit a number of Russian civilians as possible information providers."

The newspaper Vedomosti reported over the weekend that Leiderman was "lobbying" on behalf of the Israeli company Elbit, which is keen on selling unmanned aerial vehicles to Russia. This would seem to contradict the interests of Russia's state-run military industry, which signed a $400 million contract for Israeli Searcher UAVs.

A source told the Izvestiya newspaper that Leiderman was actively lobbying on behalf of an Israeli company, adding that he had vigorously promoted Elbit's unmanned aircraft, which Russia had refused to purchase because they had been sold to the former Soviet republic of Georgia, with which Russia has been in military confrontation.

If there is validity to these accounts, they would seem to indicate a new trend in the defense establishment, according to which military attaches must fulfill a dual role today because of cuts in funding and manpower, representing both the interests of military contractors and the Defense Ministry.