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Barak signs military deal with Russia

September 7, 2010 05:31

Nations to join in fighting terror and nuclear proliferation; agreement could also lead to Israeli weaponry being sold to Russian military.

Ehud Barak and Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Russia.

Barak and Putin 311. (photo credit:Associated Press)

Israel and Russia made history on Monday, signing for the first time a military agreement that will increase cooperation on combating terrorism and the proliferation of nuclear weapons, but also could lead to the sale of Israeli weaponry to the Russian military.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak and his Russian counterpart, Anatoly Serdyukov, signed the agreement during a ceremony in Moscow. Later in the day, Barak met with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin at his private residence in Sochi.

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Barak to head to Moscow to prevent missile sale to Syria
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Russia is particularly interested in acquiring Israeli unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). In 2009, Russia bought 12 drones from Israel Aerospace Industries, following its war with Georgia, during which Georgian military forces used Israeli Elbit Systems Hermes 450 UAVs.

The Russian army is training 50 soldiers to operate the 12 pilotless aircraft, Interfax reported.

Israel recently put plans to establish a joint venture with Russia to manufacture UAVs on hold, amid concerns regarding the transfer of sensitive technology.

On Monday, Serdyukov said, following his meeting with Barak, that it was important to borrow experience and know-how from the Israeli armed forces for the modernization of Russian armed forces.

Barak’s visit to Russia comes amid Israeli concerns regarding Moscow’s sale of advanced military technology to Syria and Iran.

Israel is particularly worried by a deal to supply Syria with advanced supersonic P-800 Yakhont cruise missiles, which would pose a major threat to Israel Navy ships if transferred to Hizbullah. During the 2006 Second Lebanon War, Hizbullah hit the Israel Navy missile corvette ‘Hanit’ with an Iranian-supplied surface-to-sea missile, killing four sailors.

Barak said that Russia was an important world power and played a dominant and influential role in the Middle East. He briefed Serdyukov and Putin on Israel’s strategic standing in the region and the way it views the various threats it faces, particularly from Iran, Syria and Lebanon.

The two defense ministers agreed to meet again soon, either in Israel or Russia.

“Security issues are our No. 1 priority,” Barak said. “We will not compromise on Israel’s security.”

AP contributed to this report.
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