Russia has complained of the Israeli UAV sale to Georgia. In May 2008, the Russian
Army shot down an Israeli UAV along the Georgian border. The UAV was not
The Russian demand for Israel to stop military sales came amid the
intensification of fighting with Georgia and carried with it the implicit threat of increased aid for Israel's enemies.
Israel has countered with complaints about Russia's military exports to
Iran and Syria. Moscow, like Israel, has responded by insisting it sells only defensive systems.
Meanwhile, Israel has been divided over whether to continue weapons
sales to Georgia, Middle East Newsline reported.
Officials said the debate pits the Defense Ministry against the Foreign
Ministry. They said the Foreign Ministry has advocated a suspension of all
weapons sales and support services to Georgia while the Defense Ministry
sought to continue exports.
"The question is whether there should be a temporary suspension of arms
exports to Georgia during the war with Russia," an official said.
In addition to UAVs and other defensive systems, industry sources said
Israeli firms have also sold rockets as well as night-vision systems
On Aug. 10, the Israeli Defense Ministry, which has overseen an
estimated $200 million in military exports to Georgia, convened senior
staffers to review the Foreign Ministry recommendation. Officials said the
ministry decided to continue to approve exports for non-lethal systems for
military and security applications in Georgia.
"The Defense Ministry has been conducting a very wise policy," Amos
Gilad, director of the Defense Ministry's political-military bureau, said.
"It has taken all factors into account. Defensive systems have been sent,
and they have not upset the strategic balance."
Moscow has also
asserted that Israeli trainers were advising the Georgian military on how to
shoot down Russian combat aircraft and disable main battle tanks.
In December 2007, Israel decided to end the sale of offensive military
systems to Georgia, but did not cancel any contracts. Officials said Israel
came under pressure from Russia, who warned that such sales would be deemed
a hostile act. France and the United States have been leading arms exporters
Still, Russia has pressed Israel for a complete military embargo on
Georgia. Officials said the Israeli Foreign Ministry was concerned that
Moscow could retaliate by selling advanced weapons to Iran and Syria.
"The Foreign Ministry, and this includes the minister, does not want to
give Russia a pretext for selling advanced systems to Iran and Syria," the
For its part, Israel has warned Russia not to export the S-300PMU-2 air
and missile defense system to Teheran. Western intelligence sources said
S-300 components have already arrived in Iran and were expected to be
assembled into operating systems in early 2009.