Jan 11, 2022
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Putin is trying to win Israel over to his side

In the photo: Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (from right to left)

In the photo: Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (from right to left) (Photo: Evgeny Biyatov / POOL / TASS)

A new round of global confrontation has put the regional powers in an ambiguous position, which are now forced to choose between different centers of power. Among them, in particular, is Israel, which cannot sacrifice both its strengthened friendship with Russia and its long-standing warm relations with the West. It is more and more difficult to maneuver …

Maariv: Russia has become one of the main players in the Middle East

Israel widely celebrated the 30th anniversary of the restoration of diplomatic relations with Russia. The most influential Israeli publications have dedicated publications to this event. In particular, on the pages of the centrist newspaper Maariw issued a policy statement Aaron Frenkel, Chairman of the Board of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, is one of the most frequent guests in Russia among the Israeli business establishment.

And now immigrants from the USSR and Russia play a huge role in Israeli society, politics and economy. The Russian-speaking Jewish community is one of the largest in the world with up to 1 million people. Some Russian oligarchs such as Mikhail Fridman and Herman Khanadopted Israeli citizenship

Frenkel points out that it was the USSR that was one of the first countries to officially recognize Israel in 1948.

During the Cold War, however, the Soviet Union and Arab countries found themselves on one side of the barricades, and Israel on the other.

But now, according to Frenkel, most of these contradictions have been removed. Israel simply cannot ignore the opinion of Russia, which has become one of the most influential foreign policy players in the Middle East.

Haaretz: Russia and Israel can take a common position on Iran

Some Israeli officials are making uplifting statements in an attempt to neutralize the severity of the geopolitical confrontation. In particular, speaking at a conference of the Israel Institute for National Security Studies, dedicated to the 30th anniversary of Israeli-Russian relations, the former national security adviser Meir Ben Shabbat stated that Russia and Israel are allegedly brought closer by their position on Iran.

Ben Shabbat quotes the influential liberal publication Haaretz, 20% of which is owned by the former top manager of the controversial Yukos oil corporation living in Israel Leonid Nevzlin… According to Haaretz, Ben Shabbat stated that both Russia and Israel consider Iran “a destabilizing regional force.”

An interesting position is expressed in an editorial by the Turkish government publication TRT World (it is similar to Russia Today broadcasting in many languages). The editors point to the existence between Russia and Israel of a kind of “gentleman’s agreement” (that is, not officially enshrined) that Moscow will not sell certain types of weapons to Iran.

Israel Hayom: Israel and Russia are bound by non-aggression agreements in Syria

The position regarding the events in Syria also hints at the existence of tacit agreements between Russia and Israel. Israel Hayom, owned by a family of American-Israeli businessmen Adelson, indicates the aggravation of contradictions between Syria, Russia and Iran, connected precisely with the assessment of military-political threats.

The newspaper quotes an unnamed Syrian senior official complaining about Russia’s passivity in repelling Israeli airstrikes against Syrian military installations. The Russian S-400 air defense system deployed in Syria turns out to be almost inoperative against Israeli aircraft. The taciturnity of Russia gives Israel the green light to continue delivering such attacks, states the politician quoted by Israel Hayom.

Political analyst Nikola Mikovich, who specializes in the study of post-Soviet countries, cites several examples of such “passivity” in the Asia Times.

On December 28, Israeli warplanes attacked a container complex in the port of Latakia – that is, in the immediate vicinity of a Russian naval base. The attacks were directed at a warehouse where Iranian weapons were believed to be stored. Moreover, this was the second attempt by Israel to destroy the cargo. The first blow was struck on December 7.

Moreover, neither on December 7, nor on December 28, the Russian S-400s did not try to hit Israeli planes, Mikovich writes. The analyst points out that Russia will never activate its air defense systems against Israeli aircraft.

This passivity is believed to be part of a broader deal between the two countries. Part of this deal is Israel’s pledge to guarantee the safety of Russian citizens and military installations in Syria during its strikes against Iranian militias and Syrian military installations.

There is no doubt that the Kremlin wants to avoid a repeat of incidents like that in 2018, when a Russian spy plane returning to Khmeimim was mistakenly shot down by a Syrian surface-to-air missile.

Moscow then blamed Israel for the incident, claiming that Israeli planes deliberately set up the Russian Il-20 plane to attack the Syrian air defense systems. At the same time, the tragedy did not affect the relations between Russia and Israel. As Mikovich writes in the Asia Times, the result could be an unofficial non-aggression agreement, which both sides have respected since 2018. While they are observing.

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