Syria-Russia missile deal ‘problematic,’ Netanyahu says


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel has failed to convince Russia not to sell cruise missiles to Syria.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday during the weekly Cabinet meeting that Russia’s decision to supply the missiles, honoring a contract signed in 2007, would be "problematic."

The advanced anti-ship missiles could place Israeli naval ships in the Mediterranean in danger, according to reports.

"We have been aware of this deal for some time, and there were discussions with the Russians at every level," Netanyahu said, according to Haaretz. "To our regret, the deal is now proceeding in stages, and that is problematic for us."

Netanyahu reportedly said that Israel’s recent decision to purchase advanced F-35 warplanes from the United States in part stemmed from the Russia-Syria deal.

Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said last Friday during a visit to the Pentagon in Washington that Russia would honor its contract with Syria.

Israel fears the weapons will fall into the hands of Hezbollah in Lebanon.

"The U.S. and Israel ask us not to supply Syria with [P-800 Yakhont cruise missiles]," Serdyukov said, "but we do not see the concerns expressed by them that these arms will fall into the hands of terrorists."

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