Russia says it can have good ties with both Israel and Iran

Source: Russia says it can have good ties with both Israel and Iran | The Times of Israel

In remarks apparently aimed at Jerusalem’s effort to build a united front against Tehran, Sergey Lavrov says Moscow won’t ‘ally’ against anyone, criticizes US ‘muscle flexing’

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, and PM Netanyahu at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, July 23,2018. (Haim Zach/GPO)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, and PM Netanyahu at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, July 23,2018. (Haim Zach/GPO)

Russia can balance positive ties with both arch-enemies Israel and Iran, the Kremlin said Wednesday, in comments unlikely to sit well with Jerusalem, which is seeking to establish a broad international front against Iran.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow as a policy does not join coalitions against other countries.

“Relations with Iran, Israel as well as other states of the Middle East are valuable to Russia. Our foreign policy is multi-pronged, we don’t ‘ally’ against anybody. We guide our partners toward peaceful solutions to problems,” Lavrov told Russia’s Argumenty i Fakty daily.

Several quotes from the interview were tweeted out by the Russian embassy in Tel Aviv’s Twitter account in an apparent effort to direct the comments at Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has long sought Russian backing for its demand that Iranian forces leave Syria.

Iran and its military proxies are allied with Russia in backing the Syrian regime but Israel is concerned that Tehran is using the opportunity to establish forward bases in Syria from which to attack the Jewish state.

Russia has indicated that it can only attempt to keep Iranian forces away from the Golan border, but will not attempt to clear them out of Syria.

Moscow has remained a vociferous backer of the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran, which Netanyahu has urged to be scrapped.

In the Wednesday interview, Lavrov said the anti-Iranian stances of the US “and some of its allies” had increased tensions in the region.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (right) and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif give a joint press conference following their meeting in Moscow on May 8, 2019. (Alexander Nemenov/AFP)

“The US is flexing muscles, blames Iran for all sins. This creates a dangerous situation: it can only take one match to light a fire,” Lavrov said.

Lavrov also criticized those who compare the nuclear deal to the 1938 Munich agreement, in which European powers attempted to appease the Nazi regime, a common talking point of Netanyahu’s.

“[Former British prime minister] Neville Chamberlain and [former French prime minister] Edouard Daladier tried to appease Hitler and make the German war machine focus on the Soviet Union… Nothing of the kind is happening now,” the Russian foreign minister claimed.

According to Lavrov, Iran has “repeatedly confirmed its willingness to ensure regional stability through dialogue with all interested countries.”

The Kremlin’s top diplomat said Moscow was taking multiple steps to ease tensions in the Middle East.

Russia has largely turned a blind eye to reported Israeli attacks on Iranian and Syrian installations in Syria, though it has at times criticized Jerusalem and last year gave Damascus access to an advanced air defense system.


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