MOSCOW, June 26 (Itar-Tass) — Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Israel on Monday. He together with his Israeli counterpart Shimon Peres unveiled the Monument to Soviet Warriors, who perished in the battles with Nazi Germany. Despite direct questions on the Iranian nuclear problem, he did not give an expected and direct pledge to Israeli colleagues to influence on the alignment of forces.
On Monday, the public attention in Israel was focused on two events, between which some Israeli observers find direct links – this is the Sunday announcement of the results of the presidential elections in Egypt, at which candidate from the Muslim Brotherhood movement Mohamed Morsi won, and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to the country during his Middle East tour, the Novye Izvestia daily reported. The Egyptian election struggle resulted in sharply growing tensions on the southern borders of Israel. Putin’s visit will result in more intensive peacekeeping efforts in the region, it is high time for this, observers in the country said.
In general, the visit of the Russian president produced a quite a favourable impression on the Israeli establishment, which takes Russia traditionally suspiciously (the recollections about the Soviet times had an impact on it), and on the local press, the newspaper noted. The fact of Putin’s visit was already impressive, particularly demonstrative in view of repeated refusals of US President Barack Obama to visit Israel. The most important thing is that the visit of the Russian president coincided with a dramatically deteriorated situation on the Egyptian border that is directly linked with the results of the elections in that country.
The Russian president did not bring the long awaited no to the Iranian nuclear program for Israel, the RBC daily noted. Vladimir Putin avoided thrice the direct answer to concrete requests of local leaders to influence the alignment of forces and not to give nuclear power to the neighbours. He showed the miracles of diplomacy at that moment, when President Shimon Peres has made a tough statement at the reception that Iran threatens to wipe out Israel from the earth.
No historic statements were made at the negotiations with Binyamin Netanyahu that happens frequently, when the sides do not come to agreement, the newspaper went on to say. “We discussed the Iranian nuclear problem in detail,” Putin did not elaborate on the details of the negotiations. He also said in general words on the situation in the Middle East, “Over one million comers from Russia live in Israel, and we would like them to live in peace and security.”
Putin received a very hospitable reception that was better than that for US President Barack Obama. The atmosphere of the negotiations was much more cordial than the general attitude of the Israeli society to Russia, the Vedomosti daily cited political expert Andrei Kozhinov as saying. Last time the Russian leader paid an official visit to Israel in 2005, and a last year’s visit of Dmitry Medvedev was disrupted over a strike of the Israeli Foreign Ministry. The current friendly meeting showed that the last year’s problem with the visit was forgotten and forgiven, Kozhinov stated. He noted that Russia as never before is interested in Israel as a reliable partner in the Middle East, because after the Arab Spring the Israeli position got weaker in the region.
Putin’s visit in Israel “noted importance of this region for us, we are seeking for further build-up of Russian positions here,” Russian Presidential Aide Yuri Ushakov told reporters.
The Middle Eastern problems became high on the agenda of the negotiations, and Moscow was talking Israel into no military strike on Iran, and Israel convinced Russia of the need to introduce economic sanctions against Iran, the newspaper cited a member of the Russian delegation as saying. In view of the events in the Middle East the need to settle protracted conflicts is growing, Putin said after the negotiations with the reference to the Arab-Israeli conflict. On the eve of Putin’s visit the Palestinians dealt several strikes from the Gaza Strip on Israeli cities. “We urged the conflicting parties to resume negotiations. This is the only way of settlement,” Putin concluded, sooner addressing to the Palestinian leadership, with which he will meet in Bethlehem on Tuesday.
In the foreign policy both countries reiterated their positions without any changes, Kozhinov noted, adding that they eye actually major prospects in economic cooperation: in the agrarian sector, high technologies, joint development of gas fields on the Israeli shelf of the Mediterranean Sea. It is not accidental that all Israeli business captains attended an unveiling ceremony of the war memorial and the Monday reception given by Peres, moreover, people were fighting for tickets, Kozhinov noted.