Barak heads to Russia in bid to halt Iran, Syria arms deal
Defense Minister is the first to visit Russia; Barak plans to discuss planned sale of advanced military technology, possible transfer of Russian armored vehicles into West Bank.
By YAAKOV KATZ
Defense Minister Ehud Barak will travel to Russia on Sunday amid Israeli concerns over the sale of advanced military technology to Syria and Iran.Barak’s trip to Moscow is the first visit of an Israeli defense minister to Russia, excluding Yitzhak Rabin, who traveled there when he served as prime minister and defense minister.Barak is expected to meet with his Russian counterpart, Anatoly Serdyukov. There is also a possibility that he will meet with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.Russia is looking to increase its involvement in the newly-launched peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.Barak will likely be asked during his visit there to allow the transfer of 50 Russian armored vehicles into the West Bank.Israel is, however, most concerned with Russian plans to supply Syria with advanced supersonic P-800 Yakhont cruise missiles that would pose a serious threat to Israel Navy ships if transferred to Hizbullah.During the 2006 Second Lebanon War, Hizbullah succeeded in striking a naval missile ship with an Iranian-supplied surface- to-sea missile.Israel is also concerned with the possibility that Russia will follow through with the delivery of the S-300 surface-to-air defense system to Iran. Russia has issued mixed messages regarding the future of the 2005 deal in recent months, first saying that the new round of sanctions on Iran passed at the United Nations in June would not impede the deal, and later saying that it would.
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