Russian Ambassador to Israel: Israel is the main problem in the Middle East, not Iran and its proxies

TEL AVIV — “Israel is attacking Hezbollah, Hezbollah is not attacking Israel,” Russian Ambassador to Israel Anatoly Viktorov stated to Jerusalem Post, adding that Israel should refrain from attacks on the territory of sovereign states.

“Russia will not allow Israeli raids on Syrian territory,” said Viktorov.

“The problem in the region is not Iranian activities,” he stated, “it’s a lack of understanding between countries and noncompliance with U.N. resolutions in the Israel–Arab and Israel–Palestinian conflict.”

With regard to Iranian nuclear ambitions, Viktorov stated that Iran’s increase in the centrifuges is not considered a violation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and Russia holds the U.S. responsible for the failure of JCPOA.

After the U.S. withdrawal from the agreement, Iran took steps that do not coincide with JCPOA, Viktorov said, noting that it was an unfortunate development.

A U.S. return to JCPOA would facilitate an easing of tensions and would allow Iran to develop a peaceful nuclear program. Furthermore, it would allow the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to monitor Iran’s program.

Asked about Russia’s intention to sell weapons to Iran in the event the international embargo is lifted, Viktorov replied that he is not aware of specific plans, but as Iran is a sovereign state, it is possible.

Viktorov also spoke about the normalization of relations between Israel and Arab nations, noting he considered them positive developments.

“Israel should sit at the negotiating table and not form alliances against other parties,” he continued, stressing that the agreements should not substitute for a settlement with Palestinians.

On Wednesday, the Foreign Ministry reprimanded Ambassador Viktorov over his remarks.