YOSSI MELMAN/J.Post/Israel gets a resounding slap in the face from Putin


Analysis: Israel gets a resounding slap in the face from Putin
By YOSSI MELMAN/J.Post/04/20/2015

 Israel’s policy of appeasement toward Russia was again rewarded with a resounding slap in the face. President Vladimir Putin warned Jerusalem against selling lethal weapons to Ukraine.  Selling weapons to Ukraine will not achieve its objective, will create more needless victims and “will not change the reality on the ground,” he said.

Putin’s comments came in response to reports in Israel that some were proposing to sell Ukraine advanced weapons systems as “a response and revenge” for Moscow’s decision to unfreeze the deal it made with Iran seven years ago and supply the regime in Tehran with the S-300 air defense system.

 Israel was livid over the Russian decision, however there was no public display of Jerusalem’s outrage.  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu telephoned Putin and protested the move.

The sale of the S-300, even if it is an older model that is less advanced, has always been considered by the defense establishment as a move that will severely hinder an Israel Air Force attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, if such an attack were ever decided on, something that is very unlikely.

US President Barack Obama has been surprising in his response to Putin’s move, saying that he had expected for a long time that Russia would go through with the sale, and that the only surprise was that the Russian president extended the freeze on the deal multiple times.  It should be noted that no UN Security Council resolutions forbid the sale of “defensive” weapons to Iran, which is how Putin has explained his decision to proceed with the deal.

 For years, Israel has practiced a policy of appeasement toward the Kremlin, for two reasons: first, the hope that this would benefit Jerusalem in its effort to prevent the weapons deal with Iran. To the government’s embarrassment, this did not happen. The second reason was Israel’s fear of Russia. Thus, while Netanyahu is butting heads with Israel’s greatest ally, the United States, he acts like a leaf being blown by the wind versus Putin.

The policy has not worked, and on Saturday Putin voiced his warning to Israel. In the past, Israel back-stabbed Georgia and stopped selling Tbilisi equipment in the wake of Russia’s invasion of the former Soviet enclave in 2008. Israel has behaved similarly with Ukraine.  For example, Israel and Iran were among the only nations that did not condemn Russia’s invasion of Crimea and its subsequent annexation of the peninsula to the Russian Federation, much to the chagrin of the US and the European Union.

 Israel has not sufficed solely with diplomacy. It has also taken action on the ground. Since the beginning of the Ukraine crisis, the Defense Ministry has refused to grant arms dealers and Israeli security consultants permits to sell equipment to Kiev.

The only deals were for light military equipment, such as the webbing used to make belts, packs and pouches. This is despite the fact that Ukraine turned to Israel on several occasions, asking to buy advanced weapons systems, mainly in the intelligence and drone fields. It has again become clear that Israeli kissing up to leaders like Putin does not pay, and does not lead such leaders to be grateful.  It is apparently easier to clash with an ally that is a democratic state than with a tyrant that knows how to take revenge.