Russia nixed arms sales to Israel’s enemies at its request, PM’s adviser says
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Russia nixed arms sales to Israel’s enemies at its request, PM’s adviser says

Ariel Bulshtein also claims Jerusalem reciprocated, canceling deals with Ukraine that were uncomfortable for Moscow

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) speaks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during their meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow on April 4, 2019. (Alexander Zemlianichenko/POOL/AFP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) speaks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during their meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow on April 4, 2019. (Alexander Zemlianichenko/POOL/AFP)

Russia acquiesced to Israeli requests and canceled certain arms sales to regimes that are antagonistic toward Israel, an adviser to the prime minister said this week, according to the Ynet news site.

In return, he said, Israel canceled arms sales that irked the Russians, including to Ukraine.

“Russia agreed to Israel’s request and, for example, did not provide certain types of weapons to [Israel’s] enemy nations such as Iran, which states at the highest levels its wish to erase Israel off the face of the Earth,” Ariel Bulshtein, who is the prime minister’s adviser for the country’s Russian-speaking community, told Russian paper Izvestia Thursday, according to Ynet.

“Naturally we are unenthusiastic on [Russia] providing modern weapons to such regimes,” he said.

He added that Israel agreed “at least twice, if not more,” to Russian requests not to sell weapons to nations whose relations with Moscow are tense, such as Ukraine.

Bulshtein was appointed to the newly-created post in June, following the failure of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s attempts to form a coalition and the announcement of new elections.

Ariel Bulshtein (Courtesy of EAJC)

The move was meant to help Likud’s efforts to siphon votes away from Yisrael Beytenu, the Russian-speaking party led by Avigdor Liberman, whose hard-nosed demands stymied Netanyahu’s efforts to form a coalition in the Knesset. Likud was largely unsuccessful in pulling Russian voters away form Liberman, who went on to increase his strength in the September vote.

Israel has highly sensitive relations with Russia, which has played a central role, alongside Iran, in preventing the fall of the Assad regime in the Syrian civil war. Israel is seeking to prevent Iran from deepening its military presence across the northern border.

Netanyahu has cultivated close ties to Putin, flying frequently to meet with him to discuss regional developments. This July, in a move targeting Israeli-Russian voters ahead of the repeat elections in September, Netanyahu’s Likud party hung a massive picture of the prime minister with Putin on its headquarters in Tel Aviv.

Prior to the election, Netanyahu flew to Russia for talks with Putin in Sochi. Meeting with Putin, the prime minister hailed bilateral relations, saying they have never been better.

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