Netanyahu and Putin go to shake hands, 390.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israel spoke with Russia on Thursday morning amidst reports that Syrian
President Bashar Assad’s forces had received a shipment of S-300 missiles from
Israel has yet to confirm the arrival of the missiles, which have
a 200-kilometer range with the capacity to hit planes in northern Israel. It
would create a no-fly zone that would make it impossible for the Israeli
air-force to operate along the Syrian and Lebanese border, precisely at a moment
when both countries are move volatile.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
had personally asked Russian President Vladamir Putin not to deliver the
missiles when he visited Moscow earlier this month.
On Thursday morning
Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz held a pre-arranged meeting with
Russian Ambassador to Israel Sergey Yakovlev and raised the issue of the S-300
Russia has maintained that the missiles are defensive and are
needed by Assad’s forces in their battle against rebel groups in that
Steinitz on Wednesday said that the missiles could also be used
as offensive weapons.
At the end Steinitz’s meeting with Yakovlev,
Steinitz's office said, that the men discussed bilateral and strategic issues in
the region. They agreed that Israel and Russia would “maintain an ongoing
dialogue and cooperate,” Steinitz’s office said.
Assad announced that the
missiles had arrived, just four days after the European Union agreed to lift its
arm embargo to Syrian rebel forces.
Earlier in the day, Netanyahu spoke
of the dangers facing Israel from missile attacks from the Syrian, Lebanese and
Gaza borders when he attended a meeting of the Emergency Economy Committee,
where they discussed Tuesday’s national emergency drill.
"We are deep in
the era of missiles that are aimed at civilian population areas,” Netanyahu
“We must prepare defensively and offensively for the new era of
warfare. The State of Israel is the most threatened state in the world. Around
us are tens of thousands of missiles and rockets that could hit our home front,”
Russia’s sale of the S-300 miisiles has not stopped it
from working with the United States to hold an international peace conference in
Geneva thatwould include representatives from Assad’s government and the rebel
"Preparations for the international conference on Syria
discussed" at the three-way meeting in Geneva on June 5 between Russian, US and
United nations officials, Interfax quoted the unidentified Russian foreign
ministry source as saying.
The official said US Under Secretary of
State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman and UN Under Secretary General for
Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman would attend the June 5 meeting. State-run
news agency RIA said Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov would also
Rebel forces are threatening to boycott the conference. No
date has been set for the Geneva talks.Reuters contributed to this