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Israel and Russia coordinate arms sale preventing deals with Iran

December 13, 2019 at 12:06 pm

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) shakes hands with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) during a meeting in Sochi, Russia on 12 September 2019 [Amos Ben Gershom/GPO/Handout/Anadolu Agency]

Ariel Bulshtein, adviser to the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, has announced that Israel has refused to sell weapons to Georgia, at Russia’s request. He also stated a month and a half ago, that Israel had refrained from selling weapons to Ukraine at the request of Russia, in exchange for halting an arms deal between Russia and Iran.

In an interview with Ukrainian magazine Apostrophe, Yedioth Ahronoth reported on Thursday that Bulshtein pointed out that: “Russia has agreed at least twice to Israel’s request not to sell advanced weapons to Iran. Russia also asked Israel to realise the sensitivities and to respond to its requests about arms sales.”

Bulshtein mentioned that: “Israel has not sold several types of weapons to Georgia. There are similar Russian demands from Israel regarding other countries, especially in places witnessing conflicts with Russia.”

“There is no talk of cancelling the supply of weapons included in agreements that have been signed. It is clear to all, that not all of the massive weapons that Israel has are not for sale, and even when we sell, we do not sell to all countries. When Israel decides what to sell abroad, it also takes into account the geopolitical situation,” added Bulshtein.

Bulshtein evaded answering a question on the issue of selling weapons to Ukraine, and declined to repeat his answer from his previous statements. He asserted: “In this specific case, I am not part of the negotiations. Therefore, I do not know all the details about Russia’s requests for Ukraine, and whether there is such a request in the first place.” His previous statement about Israel’s refusal to sell arms to Ukraine at the request of Russia, had led to several calls for Netanyahu to dismiss him.

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Netanyahu had previously mentioned Bulshtein as a candidate for the post of Israeli ambassador to Moscow, a vacant position since the former ambassador, Gary Koren, completed his duties in September. Because Netanyahu was unable to appoint an ambassador in the context of political appointments, the Israeli foreign minister, Jacob Livna, was sent as acting caretaker of the Israeli embassy in Moscow.

Bulshtein advised the Ukrainian magazine that no major party in Israel dreams of winning without supporting the votes of Russian immigrants, and that in eight out of the nine recent election battles in Israel, the Russian population has determined the election results.

According to Bulshtein: “In the last elections, Likud won five seats in the Knesset from Russian votes, and this is a lot. I think that Yisrael Beiteinu, headed by Avigdor Lieberman, won between five and six seats, and two seats went to the Blue and White party, with two seats to other parties.”

“At the beginning, there was a huge difference between Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu, and Likud’s power has been strengthened among Russian circles. The results are very good in these circles,” added Bulshtein, denying statements that he had failed in his mission, by not attracting enough votes for Likud.