‘We owe you’, Lapid tells Russian FM, but says Israel will defend itself against Iran, Syria

“The people of Russia supported the creation of the State of Israel, and we owe you,” said Lapid, adding that Israel will not tolerate Iranian bases in Syria.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid touched down in Moscow Thursday for a whirlwind visit, meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov.

At a press conference after his meeting with Lavrov, Lapid emphasized the role that Russia had played in liberating Jews from Nazi concentration camps and ghettos, as well as backing the fledgling Jewish State.

Lapid said that his father and grandmother had been languishing for years in the Budapest ghetto when suddenly they heard a foreign language.

His father asked what the language was, and “she said, ‘It’s Russian. The Russians have arrived, and we are safe,’” Lapid recounted.

“The Red Army saved the world from tyranny and racism…Three years later, the people of Russia supported the creation of the State of Israel, and we owe you. We are a people with a long memory,” he said.

It’s believed that Lapid’s visit may be part of Israeli efforts to smooth over rumored troubles between the Jewish State and Russia, as tensions rise between the two nations over Syria.

In July, Russia’s Defense Ministry issued rare public statements celebrating the success of Syria’s air defense system against missiles fired by the Israeli Air Force.

According to London-based Arabic newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat, President Vladimir Putin is “irritated” and has “run out of patience” with Israeli strikes on Iranian-backed intelligence gathering and operational bases in Syria.

“We will maintain our ability to defend ourselves in the face of threats from Syria and elsewhere,” Lapid said at the press conference.

“We of course recognize that Russia has key interests in the region.”

Lapid then expounded on the Iranian threat, stating that “Israel will not sit quietly while it builds terror bases on our northern border or supplies weapons to terror organizations intended to be used against us.”

Referencing “damning” reports from the IAEA watchdog group, Lapid said the Iranian government was guilty of “fraud, deception, and outright lies” regarding its nuclear development.

“The picture is clear and very worrying – a rapidly advancing nuclear program without any supervision. Iran’s march towards a nuclear weapon is not only an Israeli problem, it’s a problem for the entire world,” he said.

“Israel and Russia have strong and deep ties in economics, culture, tourism, energy, and science.” he added.

Citing the one million Russian-speakers living in Israel, including Tourism Minister Yoel Razobov who joined Lapid in Moscow, Lapid said he looked forward to deepening ties between the two nations.