Russia’s delivery to Syria of S-300 anti-aircraft missiles would threaten all military and civil flights in Israel, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin said in Moscow today.
“In an unstable situation, you never know whose hands they may end up in,” Elkin said. “The weapons change the rules of the game in the Middle East.”
Syria is embroiled in a two-year-old conflict that has evolved into civil war and spilled over Syria’s borders in recent months. The United Nations said today that at least 93,000 people have been killed and that the real number is “potentially much higher.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin said June 4 that his country hadn’t delivered the missiles to Syria to avoid upsetting the regional balance of power. The U.S. has told Russia the missiles would be “destabilizing” for Israel’s security, Secretary of State John Kerry said on May 9.
Elkin said Israel has asked Russia to at least suspend the sale “until the situation in Syria clears up.” Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reported last month that Israeli National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror told European Union ambassadors his country would prevent the missiles from becoming operational on Syrian soil if delivered.
Elkin also said Israel was discussing with Russia the Russian government’s offer to station peacekeepers on the Golan Heights as part of United Nations force after Austria decided to withdraw its soldiers.
The UN has said permanent members of its Security Council, such as Russia, can’t participate in the force. Russia has proposed revising the guidelines governing the force, created in 1974 to supervise the cease-fire between Syria and Israel on the Golan Heights. Israel captured the southern section of the Golan from Syria in the 1967 Mideast war.
To contact the reporter on this story: Henry Meyer in Moscow at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at email@example.com