(Jerusalem Post) – Israel’s decision to sell advanced unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to Russia was made after Moscow gave assurances it would not transfer the technology to Iran or Syria and will suspend the sale of anti-aircraft systems to these countries, defense officials told The Jerusalem Post.
Russian news agencies revealed that Moscow had signed a deal with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) to purchase UAVs, after its own unmanned drones performed poorly during its war with Georgia in August.
This is the first sale of Israeli military hardware to Russia. Before agreeing to it, Israel needed to receive permission from the United States.
Russia’s interest in Israeli drones surfaced in late 2008 following the war in Georgia, during which Tbilisi operated Israeli-made drones. At the time, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad, head of the Defense Ministry’s Diplomatic-Security Bureau, paid a visit to Moscow and reportedly received assurances that Russia would not sell the S300 defense missile system to Iran.
Ahead of a meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama with his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev next week, Israel has began an international effort to pressure Russia not to complete the sale of the advanced S-300 air defense system.
The deal between Russia and Iran for the sale of the air defense system was signed more than a year ago, but external pressure, primarily from the United States and Israel, led the Russian political leadership to delay its implementation.
TSIBLISI, Georgia – Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, seen by some Georgians as brash and impulsive, called for dialogue with the opposition on the second day of street protests to force his resignation.
“We have no alternative to dialogue and sharing responsibility,“ Saakashvili told reporters a day after 60,000 Georgians took to the streets of the capital to demand he stand down. He urged “unity across the political spectrum.“
Saakashvili, seen by some Georgians as brash and impulsive, has polarised opinion in the former Soviet republic. But foreign diplomats question whether the opposition alliance can maintain unity and muster the numbers to force him out.
Protesters blocked the capital’s main avenue through the night ahead of another rally outside parliament.
Opposition leaders accuse the 41-year-old president of stifling reforms promised with the 2003 Rose Revolution that swept him to power, and embroiling the country in a disastrous war with Russia.
CORFU, Greece (AP) – The foreign ministers of NATO and Russia are set to resume formal military ties when they meet Saturday for the first time since last year’s war between Russia and Georgia.
Saturday’s meeting between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his counterparts from NATO’s 28 member nations comes as President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev prepare to hold a summit next month. Officials said the talks in Corfu will reflect the trend toward improved relations.
“We expect the meeting to go well, there will be no surprises,” Igor Semenenko, counselor at the Russian mission to NATO said.
NATO cut off the ties last August, when Russian forces invaded Georgia after that country’s troops attacked its breakaway province of South Ossetia.
Relations on the political side began to improve after Obama took office, as NATO ambassadors met with Russia’s envoy to the NATO-Russia Council.