Putin Deaf to Israel’s Gripes about Russian Arms for Hizballah

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin turns aside all Israel’s complaints about Russian arms supplies to Iran’s Lebanese proxy, Hizballah, whenever he talks to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu – roughly every week-to-ten days. The issue was also raised without results when Yossi Cohen, Director of the Mossad, visited the Russian capital on July 1.
The Israeli public has not been apprised of this intense lobbying campaign, because it has been assured that the Israel Air Force bombs every arms convoy heading out of Syria toward Lebanon, and is therefore confident that fresh consignments are not allowed to reach Hizballah’s hands.
That impression is gained from the official communiqués for public consumption at home and abroad. But it is far from the truth and intentionally misleading.
The facts laid out here by DEBKA Weekly’s military sources are quite different:
1. Israeli air strikes only smash Iranian and Syrian weapons convoys driving from Syria to Lebanon on the strength of data provided by Israeli military intelligence (Aman). But the traffic missed by Aman goes through to its destination.
2. The Israeli public has never been told that Russia as well as Iran and Syria is making arms deliveries to Hizballah. Netanyahu and the IDF officers in contact with Russian officers in Moscow and the Russian Latakia base in Syria, labor to highlight Moscow’s purported pledges, under the recent Russian-Israeli agreements on the Syria war situation, to prevent Syrian, Iranian and Hizballah forces from reaching the Syrian-Israeli border. Israelis have also been led to believe that the Russians will help keep terror organizations at a distance from the border.
Neither of these presentations is completely foolproof.
3. It is generally presumed in Israel that Iran was the source of Hizballah’s advanced Russian-made weaponry, such as the Yakhont anti-ship, sea-skimming cruise missile and SA-8 and SA-17 anti-aircraft systems. Even some Russian sources subscribe to this assumption.
But to the secret chagrin of Israeli government and military leaders, the hardware comes directly from Russia.
The military and intelligence relations between Israel and Russia are in fact a far cry from the entente cordiale presumed in Israel and Western capitals.
Russian weapons are in fact reaching the Hizballah by two covert methods:
a) Arms consignments to Syria are in excess of the requirements of Bashar Assad’s army. The surplus is earmarked for Hizballah. Our military sources disclose that by now, most of its units are equipped with Russian weapons – not only in Syria, but in Lebanon as well – last year, at battalion level; in June 2016, down to squadrons. The Russian armaments furnished are not just personal weapons but also anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles.
b) Russia is the principle raw materials supplier for the Syrian weapons industry, without which the Assad regime would not have been able to manufacture Fateh-110 missiles or Scud C ground-ground missiles. Some of Syria’s missile product is diverted under cover to Hizballah.
But whenever Netanyahu raises this issue with Putin, the Russian president feigns surprise and pretends ignorance. He promises to look into Israel’s accusation and get back to the prime minister with an answer -which never comes.
This ruse frustrates all Israeli efforts to sever the Russian arms supply line to Hizballah.

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