Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu paid a secret visit to Moscow on Monday to raise his country’s concerns about the possible transfer of missiles to Iran, Syria and Hizbollah, Israeli media reports say.
According to the Israeli daily Haaretz, only General Meir Kalifi, military affairs secretary in the Prime Minister’s bureau, and national security adviser Uzi Arad knew about the visit. The two accompanied Mr. Netanyahu to Moscow.
The Israeli embassy in Moscow was also taken by surprise as it was not informed about the visit. The daily quoting Israeli officials said the meeting focused on security issues, and revolved around Moscow’s arms deals with Iran and Syria.
Israel has been especially concerned about the transfer of S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to Iran. Analysts point out that in case Iran acquires S-300 missiles, it would change the region’s military balance, which at present is heavily in favour of Israel. Once deployed, these missiles would virtually eliminate the chances of Israeli or American air strikes against Iran’s nuclear installations.
Mr. Netanyahu’s visit follows the controversy surrounding the sea-jacking of the Russian-manned freighter “Arctic Sea,” which some media reports suggested was ferrying S-300 missiles to Iran. On Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov strongly denied that S-300 missiles were on board the “Arctic Sea.” Mr. Lavrov said the presence of S-300s on board the cargo ship was “a complete lie,” the state news agency RIA Novosti reported.
The Maltese-flagged vessel, which officially carried timber from Russia to Algeria, was reportedly boarded by a group of eight men on July 24. It then mysteriously disappeared in the Atlantic, till it was discovered off Cape Verde on August 16 by a Russian warship.