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Russia seeks unmanned drones from Israel

Russia wants to buy unmanned reconnaissance aircraft from Israel, according to the Russian defense ministry.

The decision to buy equipment represents a departure for post-Soviet Russia, which rarely has sought to buy weapons from Israel. Instead it has provided weapons to many of the countries surrounding Israel. Some of those weapons have fallen into the hands of Hezbollah militias in Lebanon.

Russian military officials in a statement released Nov. 14 portrayed the possible weapons deal as a stopgap measure until the country can produce its own unmanned drones in the near future.

A Russian fighter jet shot down an Israeli-made drone conducting reconnaissance for Georgia over its breakaway region of Abkhazia this summer. It was one of several incidents that escalated into a full-blown conflict in early August.

Georgia had bought dozens of the drones in the two years leading up to the war, according to the state-run news agency RIA-Novosti.

Russian officials seemed to suggest that they had decided to buy the drones after seeing them in action during the Georgian conflict.

“These are unmanned reconnaissance planes, which had performed well in Georgia,” said Mikhail Musatov, a member of Russia’s parliament.

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