Russia to open archives on Israel ties

Historian says material could help research theories that Soviets were more involved in Six Day War than is commonly known.

ussr soviet russia 88 (photo credit: )
ussr soviet russia 88
(photo credit: )
Russia will make public Foreign Ministry documents and papers from 1953-1967 relating to Israel, according to a joint declaration signed Thursday by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov. The documents are expected to shed some light on the former Soviet Union's polices in the region during that period. Michael Oren, the historian who gained prominence for his book about the 1967 Six Day War entitled Six Days of War, welcomed the agreement to open the archives, but noted that it was not the first time the Russians had promised to do so. He said that the material at the archives could help historians research theories that the Soviets were more actively involved in the Six Day War than is commonly known to date. "It should be very interesting," he said. At the same time, Oren said there were only "slim pickings" at the Russian Foreign Ministry archives, which he said were not well organized on his last visit there in 2001. One government official said "the real stuff" wasn't in the Russian Foreign Ministry, but rather in other archives in Russia, and this decision did not mean the de-classification of that material. Rather, the source said, the Foreign Ministry is the depository for formal documents dealing with Israeli-Soviet diplomatic relations during that period. Israel and Russia signed a protocol in 1993 governing the publication of diplomatic documents in order to facilitate research. The first batch of documents, from 1941-1953, were released under that protocol, and Thursday's declaration will free up the second batch of documents, from 1953-1967, the year the Soviet Union severed diplomatic ties with Israel.