A Growing Russian-Israeli Alliance?

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Later this month, Russian president Vladimir Putin is scheduled to make a state visit to Israel.  It will be Putin’s second visit since 2005 (Obama should take notice).  Putin, who began his third term as President of Russia last month, served as Prime Minister in the intervening years.  In Israel, Putin will be meeting with his counterpart Shimon Peres, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Putin’s trip comes amidst the controversial role Russia is playing in the civil war currently unfolding in Syria.  His support for the Assad regime diplomatically and militarily, in providing it with attack helicopters and other heavy arms that the regime has used to butcher civilians, and Russia’s obstruction of any attempt in the UN to condemn the Syrian regime, is antagonizing Western powers.  Syria, however, remains Russia’s only ally in the Middle East and provides Moscow with a naval base in the Mediterranean.  And Russia, like Israel and some other Western powers, are concerned that an Islamist regime will replace Assad.

Putin’s current thinking is that the U.S. and its Western allies will not act militarily against the Assad regime, and that the regime will eventually quell the rebellion.  Russia is therefore unwilling to risk its comfortable position with the Assad regime (with Syria as a major arms purchaser and Russian banks holding more than $6B in Syrian assets) unless it appears that the Free Syrian Army has the upper hand in the apparent civil war.

Russia, however, finds itself on the opposite side of Israel and the U.S. on the issue of Iran’s nuclear program and has undermined Western attempts to force Iran to give up its nuclear weapons program.  Russia built/sold Iran the nuclear facility known as Bushehr.  Russia’s relations with Iran are characterized by the rivalry between a pro-Western group, which advocates the benefits of cooperation with the U.S. as opposed to questionable partners such as China, Iran, and other unsavory third world states, and the old Russian Defense Industrial Complex (OPK), which promotes the traditional strategic and economic ties with China, India, Iran, Syria, and North Korea.

Iran’s Press TV reported on June 8, 2012 that the “Secretary General of Iran’s Supreme Council Saeed Jalili says the promotion of strategic relations between Tehran and Moscow will serve the interests of the regional nations.”  Jalili added, “The strategic cooperation between Tehran and Moscow has the potential to align the balance of power with the interests of regional nations.  Iran-Russia constructive interaction will result in regional stability and security.”  These comments were made during a meeting between Jalili and the Secretary of the Russian Security Council Nikolai Patrushev.

At the same time, Russia appears to have shelved its plans to sell Iran S-300 ground-to-air missiles on the grounds that such a sale is forbidden under the UN sanctions ruling.  Back on July 24, 2010, a BBC report suggested that Saudi Arabia had offered to buy $2 billion worth of Russian weapons on condition that Russia does not sell Iran the S-300 missiles and would stop supporting Iran at the UN.

While Russia is a major supplier of arms and nuclear technologies to Arab nations and Iran, it has a growing security relationship with Israel which includes the purchasing by the Russian military of Israeli-made spy drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

With more than one million Russian-speaking Israelis, Putin considers Israel a Russian-speaking state.  In an interview with Euro-Asian Jewish Congress in July 2011, Putin stated, “Israel is, in fact, a special state to us.  It is practically a Russian-speaking country.  Israel is one of the few foreign countries that can be called Russian-speaking.  It’s obvious that more than half of the population speaks Russian.”

One of the stated reasons for Putin’s visit is to attend the unveiling ceremony of a memorial in Netanya in honor of the Red Army soldiers killed during World War Two.

Commenting on the occasion of the 20-year renewal of relations with Russia, Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said, “Renewal of diplomatic relations between Israel and Russia twenty years ago was an important historic event that impacted on the connection between the countries and peoples and on Israel’s history, bringing more than a million new immigrants from the former countries of the USSR to Israel.  Since then, the relations between the states have expanded, and I am convinced that cooperation in all areas will only grow stronger.”

The Moldova native Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman and Russian President Vladimir Putin share a common language – Russian.  This no doubt has helped forge a closer relationship between the two countries.  Ironically, while the U.S. is Israel’s closest ally and friend, U.S. President Barack Obama is not considered friendly by most Israelis; conversely, Russia, while not considered a friendly state, its president, Vladimir Putin, is regarded by many in Israel as a friend.

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  • Jimi Belton

    The very thought that this could be a help in stabilizing affairs in the ME, and add to the security of Israel is sheer lunicy, madness…..Putin is as full of himself as is our 0zamb0…..both are total narcissists, up to their gills…..Putin is the worst kind of wolf in sheep clothings……Bring it on, as The Bible speaks of G0d putting a hook into the mouth of Gog and Magog….Russia, and its Ruler….and draw them to their great destruction in the Valley of Megiddo……The time of Jacob`s trouble is nigh, even at the door…..Heaven guide you Benjamin Netanyahu….

  • logdon

    I often watch the Russian English speaking news channel RT where a real alternative view is offered.

    There's plenty I disagree with but the real teeth grinding comes when American leftists are in discussion groups or interviewed.

    You'll be happily rafting along with the general vibe which often focuses on non military intervention in ME affairs and supported by what we're seeing in Libya. Then…..

    Bang!! From out of nowhere the Israel bashing commences. It's not the Russians but Americans launching a tirade of utter hate based on provable falsehoods such as 'apartheid state', 'zionist military complex', 'slaughter of Arabs' and all the rest which we know only too well.

    And, believe it or not considering his Marxist credentials Obama is despised. Maybe they, who have faced this ideology first hand know the real truth.

    Obama is a cossetted American (for now anyway) college boy dilettante dabbling at arms length in theory and race based dogma which has absolutely no connection with the real communism which stifled Russia for half a century.

    To them he's a mere amateur and poseur of epic proportions surrounded by tenured college professors and Ivy League armchair warriors for whom class struggle is something learned about in books rather than the streets.

    These Russians are the sons and daughters of the revolution and they are only too aware of the massive drain imposed by the corruption created when power is absolute.

    As for Israel? Good for them. Obama anti-semitism is plain for all to see and if the old adage about enemy's enemy hold true Putin seems like a good bet.

    OK. Putin may be electorally corrupt but is Obama's anti voter ID stance any better?

    • Looking4Sanity

      In short, what you're saying is that Obama is "the most useful of useful idiots". I'd have to agree.

    • SCREW SOCIALISM

      Considering the hatred for Obama from the left,I am hopeful that Romney will defeat Obama.

      • Arius

        I will be happy to see the Big O loose the election to Romney, but at the same time I know that historical track that the West is on will not change no matter who wins the election. The Left and Right are leading the death march of the West.

  • Richard G.

    A gutsy article to be sure. It's theme underscores the terrible political fallout from Obama's abandonment of
    America's traditional allies and friends in the Middle East.

  • Marty

    Israel can't be picky when it comes to allies and supporters. Even Greece, one the most anti-semitic countries in europe, has been consulting the Israeli military. Apparently, a few european countries have made an effort to stop believing their own myths and propaganda and are becoming aware of the islamic menace. After all, Greece and Russia have a bad history with islam, especially the turkish variety. At the same time, russia and greece are hardly trustworthy, given their long record of hostility to Israel. The Israelis should be careful, but open to new initiatives. Obviously, anything they do, such as go on living, will be considered unhelpful by the obama administration.

    • Looking4Sanity

      "Israel can't be picky when it comes to allies and supporters."

      Yes. It really can. More importantly, it SHOULD!

  • SCREW SOCIALISM

    Israel would be utterly foolish to trust Tzar Putins Russia.

    • Arius

      Just as it would be foolish for Israel to trust the Big O's America.

  • Jim

    I read a lot about how bad Putin is. Almost all is superficial accusations with out specific details or evidence. Did he stuff the ballot boxes. Oh my gosh;that never happens in America now does it.? Unlike our corrupt congress which is essentially an employee of Business or unions the Duma did not try to trip up Putin when he chased the oligarchy out of Russia ; the Russian public is all the better for it.
    Putin invited the Israeli engineers to come back to Russia with out any restrictions on their religious practices.
    Dennis proclaimed that Putin is not an anti semite but Dennis preferred democracy. also be present.
    Dennis there is democracy in turkey,hows it working for you?

  • WilliamJamesWard

    Goldilocks and the big bad wolf……..surely this story has not been lost to Bibi Netanyahu, my
    what big teeth you have Vladimir and is that a gun in your pocket?………………William

  • Schlomotion

    It's going to be a real hoot if Israel and Hasbara have to start trumpeting the virtues of Vladimir Putin 24/7. I wonder how long it would take to rework the whole FPM shebang to start saying Putin is a right wing conservative, friend of Israel and champion of republican values.

    • reader

      It's already a hoot that Obama's "I'll be more flexible after election" has not impressed Mr. KGB. Apparently, he's not watching the elections you are watching, troll. Guess, who is watching the right elections.

      • Schlomotion

        By what I just read here, Jews love Putin more than they love Obama.

        • reader

          So, what does it tell you about the elections?

          • http://www.therussianstore.com/Wool-Russian-Shawls.html Russian Shawls

            that's a good news at least if Israel will be bombed or someone or other countries are going to go war on them at least russia is always there to help them.

  • Gamaliel

    Just because a country buys Israeli weapons does not mean it's a friend of Israel. All it means is that Israel makes good weapons. Turkey has bought a lot of Israeli weapons. Is it a friend of Israel?

    Putin was not elected fairly. There were a lot of beatings and stuffing of ballot boxes and intimidation of the press. Journalists who oppose Putin have been murdered.

    Putin is suppoting Iran which is the greatest threat not only to the U.S. but to Israel as well. Some friend.

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  • Boris

    Putin and Russia never been and never will be friends of jewish people. Their aims and behaivior for the years proves it undoubtly. Liberman’s mingeling with one of our enemies is confusing and even harmful.

  • Gemae

    "Putin’s trip comes amidst the controversial role Russia is playing in the civil war currently unfolding in Syria."

    - well, i honestly hate wars and i can't really take it then. A lot of them are saying that it's the perfect…
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