An important detail was omitted from the official press releases describing Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s phone conversation last week with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the missile sale to Iran:
Netanyahu told Putin that Israel’s red line was delivery of Russian military equipment from Iran to Hizbullah via Syria, according to the U.S. periodical Defense News on Monday.
The official Israeli announcement said that Netanyahu had expressed grave concern at Russia’s decision to sell advanced S-300 missiles to Iran, and had told the Russian leader that the decision “will only encourage Iranian aggression in the region and further undermine the stability of the Middle East.”
Israeli officials also informed to Defense News that Israel will view the Russian weapons systems as legitimate military targets if Teheran attempts to transfer them to Hizbullah.
An Israeli official said that Israel continues to monitor ongoing leakage of Russian material, including SA-22 short-range and SA-17 medium-range anti-aircraft missiles, from Syria to Hizbullah.
“We’ve discussed this with our friends in Washington and Europe and made multiple demarches to Moscow over a period of weeks and months. Our red line policy is clear: We view unauthorized third-party transfers of Russian-origin equipment as legitimate targets,” the official was quoted as saying.
In a related item, Netanyahu has decided not to attend Russia’s victory parade on May 9 to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe, lengthening the list of countries who will not attend. The U.S., France and Germany have said they will not participate, a reflection of tensions over the Ukraine crisis.
Israel’s ambassador to Russia, however, will attend the event, according to the Foreign Ministry, though Russian-born Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman will not.
The Prime Minister’s Office and the Foreign Ministry would provide no explanation of the absence of a higher-level Israeli delegation to the ceremony.