debkafile reports: Shock in Jerusalem over crude insult to Israel’s leaders from Russia’s Vladimir Putin
In a televised phone-in Wednesday, Oct. 25, Putin offered the view that the sex scandal surrounding President Katzav and the corruption charges against PM Olmert were provoked by “Israel’s actions in the Lebanon.” He added: “Many see the events as defeat. That immediately triggered attacks against the president, the prime minister and the chief of staff.”
Putin’s words are seen as a gratuitous and unprecedented affront to Israeli leaders and a breach of normal courtesies between governments.
During a joint Kremlin appearance with Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert two weeks ago, the Russian president was caught on microphone coarsely commenting: “Say hello to your president – he really surprised us.” Later he claimed he thought the microphones had been switched off. But reporters quoted him as adding a further off-color comment: “We did not know he knew how to deal with 10 women.”
The Russian president’s follow-up remarks Wednesday, Oct. 25, suggest his earlier comments were meant to be heard. They also reflect negative fallout from the Putin-Olmert talks in Moscow.
debkafile‘s Moscow sources report that the Russian president felt Olmert had misrepresented the outcome of their Kremlin talks when he informed his cabinet that they had reached complete understanding on the Iranian nuclear question and agreement to coordinate security aspects. But Putin became angry when the Israeli prime minister contradicted a statement by Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov to the Kuwaiti news agency on Oct. 20. Referring to the Iranian nuclear issue, Lavrov said Russia would oppose any attempts to penalize Iran through the UN Security Council or take the nuclear program as a pretext to topple the Iranian regime.
On Oct. 22, Olmert, challenged by his ministers about the Lavrov interview, replied: “I heard quite different things from Putin.”
The Russian president has now made it clear that he will not put up with contradictions of his positions or those of his foreign minister by the Israeli prime minister or anyone else.