Russia admonished Tehran on Monday for calls by Iranian leaders to destroy Israel, marking rare criticism of Moscow’s ally in the Syrian civil war.
“We have stated many times that we won’t accept the statements that Israel, as a Zionist state, should be destroyed and wiped off the map. I believe this is an absolutely wrong way to advance one’s own interests,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was reported by the TASS state news agency as telling a conference in Moscow.
Senior Iranian leaders, among them Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamanei, have frequently called for the Jewish state’s destruction.
Most recently, Qassem Soleimani, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps general tasked with overseeing Iran’s military activity in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, threatened last week to “wipe out” Israel.
Like Russia, Iran is fighting in Syria on behalf of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime.
Israel has implored Russia to curb Iran’s military expansion in Syria, while also threatening to take direct action against the Islamic Republic if it is not reined in.
While rebuking Iran, Lavrov criticized Israel and the US for viewing “any regional problem through the prism of fighting Iran,” such as in Yemen, where Tehran is backing the Shiite Houthi rebels.
The Russian foreign minister also claimed US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was “largely motivated by this anti-Iranian stance.”
Trump’s announcement was criticized at the time by Lavrov and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who said it may “finish prospects” for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.
Russia recognized West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in April. Trump stressed in his December 6 declaration that he was not taking a position on the city’s final borders.