Monday, September 20, 2010

Israel outraged over Russia-Syria arms deal

Israel says it strongly condemns Moscow’s decision to finish a deal that would supply P-800 Yakhont cruise missiles to Syria, considering the step a disruption of (military) balance in the region.

Israeli political officials say Moscow has gone too far, noting that the deal would not improve ties between the two sides. Supplying Syria with advanced weapons at this time in particular is not a step that would encourage moderates in the Middle East, officials went on to say.

Israel expects Russia to follow through with the deal, despite promises from Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to withdraw from it, the Israeli YNet paper reported.

Israel demands that Russia provides clarity to its concerns that Syria would use the rockets in question to arm Hezbollah in Lebanon; a step it says would pose a threat to Israeli naval ships in the Mediterranean, particularly off the Lebanese coast.

Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said Russia does not believe the deal would risk arming “terrorists” in the region.