Lieberman has surprise visit with Putin in Moscow

FM had been expected to discuss Russia’s delivery of missiles to Syria with Russian officials, but Putin meet comes as surprise.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman 311 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS/Baz Ratner)
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman 311 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS/Baz Ratner)
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Wednesday met with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in Moscow, in a surprise visit that had not been on the agenda of his current Eastern European swing.
He had been expected to discuss Russia’s recent delivery of ship-killing missiles to Syria during high level meetings this week with Russian officials in Lithuania and Russia. Putin was not among the Russian officials he had been scheduled to meet.
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According to an Interfax report last week, Russia recently delivered Yaknot cruise missiles it sold to Damascus in 2007. Both Israel and the US had intensively lobbied against the sale, and then against the delivery.
Under the deal, worth a reported $300 million, Russia was believed to be contracted to deliver 72 missiles, which it said will protect Syria’s coast from possible attack.
Israel expressed concern in the past that these missiles would fall into Hezbollah’s hands.
The delivery of the missiles to Moscow’s traditional ally in the Middle East comes in defiance of Western calls for an arms embargo against Syria because of the continuing violence there.
Lieberman met Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday on the sidelines of a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Lithuania, in addition to the foreign ministers of Canada, Sweden, Latvia, Azerbaijan, the Netherlands, Finland and Latvia.
He had not been scheduled to travel to Moscow until Thursday for a joint Russian- Israeli economic meeting, during which he was scheduled to meet with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov.