Israel Angry at Russian Plan to Sell Missiles to Syria

Published: September 21st 2010
in News » World

Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak

Israel criticized Russia on Monday for planning to sell anti-ship cruise missiles to Syria, warning the weapons could be transferred to Hezbollah guerrillas in neighboring Lebanon, Reuters reported.


U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates told Israel's visiting defense minister in DC that he shared Israel’s concerns "about proliferation of advanced weapons that could destabilize the region," according to Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell.


The go-ahead for the $300 million Yakhont missile deal was made public last week by Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, who told news agency RIA that the deal dated back to a 2007 contract which had also met opposition from the United States.


The announcement angered Israel, whose defense minister, Ehud Barak, traveled to Moscow this month to seal a military cooperation pact, and urge the Russians not to supply Syria with arms that could compromise Israel's power and safety.


Visiting the U.S. capital on Monday, Barak expressed concern during meetings with White House officials that the Yakhont missiles could "be passed to Hezbollah, as has happened in the past, and be turned against Israel," his office released in a statement.


The United States understood that Russia had a right to sell weapons, but "we wish for them to take into account the strategic ramifications of sales," Morrell said, reiterating Gates' message to Serdyukov.


Syria denies arming Hezbollah, who also happens to be backed by Iran.


Israel and Syria have exchanged peace offers in recent years, but remain divided over central demands regarding the future of the occupied Golan Heights and the Damascus-Tehran alliance.

Related articles: (missiles, Syria, Russia, Ehud Barak)

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