BEIRUT, LEBANON (4:20 P.M.) – On Wednesday, the Israeli Foreign Ministry summoned the Russian ambassador to it, Anatoly Viktorov, against the backdrop of statements made to the Jerusalem Post, in which he criticized Israel’s role in the region.
The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it “expressed, through the official for policy and strategy, Alon Bar, its strong rejection of the statements published during a frank interview, and that they are not consistent with the reality of the situation in the Middle East, which was presented to the ambassador more than once and discussed during political dialogues and through diplomatic channels between the two countries.”
They said it was expressed to the ambassador that they “consider that the discussion on regional issues, especially with regard to the Iranian threat and its terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah, should take place through diplomatic channels, in a way that addresses the reality and threats facing Israel.”
Lastly, they pointed out that the ambassador intends to issue a letter of clarification about his statements after “some of them were inaccurately conveyed.”
Earlier this week, Viktorov told the Jerusalem Post: “Israel attacks Hezbollah, and it is not Hezbollah that attacks Israel,” adding that he is aware of the existence of tunnels from Lebanon to northern Israel, but there is no evidence that “Hezbollah dug these tunnels.
He stressed that Israel should not attack the territories of a sovereign state, and any country that is a member of the United Nations, adding that “it is unlikely that Russia will agree to any Israeli raids on Syria, neither in the past nor in the future.”
Commenting on the reports of the International Atomic Energy Agency about Iran’s increase in the number of centrifuges, the ambassador did not consider this a violation of the nuclear agreement, noting that “the first step was taken by the Americans, who unfortunately decided to withdraw from the nuclear agreement.”
He continued: “They withdrew, which allowed the Iranian side to take steps that do not coincide with the agreement, and this is also unfortunate.”
He added that the possible return of the United States to the agreement “will make things easier … It will help dispel concerns, allow the Iranians to develop a peaceful atomic energy program, and allow the IAEA to monitor what is happening in the military field.”