Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 74

Israel’s ambassador to Russia yesterday objected to statements made by Russia’s Foreign Ministry last week that criticized recent Israeli military attacks on Lebanon as a violation of that country’s sovereignty and as a course of action likely to "hamper international efforts to broker Middle East peace talks." (Interfax, April 12) Aliza Shenhar called upon the world community, including Russia, to "put pressure on those countries, with Iran at the head, which support terrorism in the Middle East," and urged Russia to issue a statement containing "an unequivocal condemnation of terrorism." Shenhar also said that Israel would continue military operations until Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Shiite militia, discontinues its rocket attacks on northern Israel from Lebanese territory. (Interfax, April 15)

Relations between Russia and Israel have warmed slightly in recent months, and Russian president Boris Yeltsin spoke out strongly against international terrorism during the March 13 Sharm El-Shiek summit. But Moscow has also moved steadily to improve relations with Syria and — especially — Iran, the two countries seen by Israel as the chief sponsors of Hezbollah. Indeed, Russian foreign minister Yevgeny Primakov was effusive in his praise of Tehran’s declared denunciation of terrorism during a March visit to Moscow by Iran’s foreign minister. That stance appears to be part of a broader strategy, probably masterminded by Primakov, aimed at reasserting Moscow’s influence in the Middle East through improved relations with Tehran and Damascus. (See Monitor, March 8 &14)

Yeltsin Advisor Slams Iranian Nuclear Deal.