Israel and Russia maintain close economic relations with $5 billion worth trade between the two countries in 2019. Military relations are less significant and rely mostly on operational coordination and less on the supply of arms. In 2010 Russia and Israel signed a five-year military agreement. Russia mainly acquired drones from Israel, including the training of the Russian drone-pilots in Israel.
Israel – Russia Relations
Russia has an embassy in Tel Aviv and a consulate in Haifa. Israel has an embassy in Moscow and a consulate-general in Yekaterinburg.
Trade between Israel and Russia exceeded $5 Billion in both 2018 and 2019. In October 2019, Russian president Putin announced that his country is working on a possible free trade zone with Israel.Russia-Israel trade exceeds $5 billion for second year running
As of 2014, Russia was Israel’s largest supplier of crude oil (alongside Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan). As of 2016, Russia was Israel’s main supplier of oil.
In 2011, Israel and Russia signed the Space Cooperation Agreement. The framework agreement is meant to develop joint research programs and other collaborations in areas like astrophysical and planetary research, space biology and medicine, navigational satellites and launch services and technology.Israel, Russia Sign Space Agency Cooperation Agreement
In the field of technology incubators, collaborative projects are being established between the two states. Rusnano, the Russian government’s vehicle for investments in nanotechnology, has established a branch in Israel, with the aim of setting up a fund for investment in Israeli nanotechnology ventures.Rusnano Israel to help Russia’s Rusnano cultivate Israeli nanotech developers Similarly, Russia’s Skolkovo innovation center has established a branch in Israel, the Israel-Skolkovo Gateway/Center (IsraelSK), which involves raising private capital and government grants leveraging for Israeli and Russian start-up companies.We promote cooperation between Israeli startups and Russian Silicon Valley – Skolkovo/
In 2018, Yandex opened a computer science school in Israel for local students, in collaboration with Tel Aviv University’s department of Computer Science. The school subsidized by Yandex, which will teach 50 Israeli students a year, will focus primarily on “machine learning”.Russians will teach Israelis: Yandex opens School of data analysis in Israel
Of all areas, the military aspect of the bilateral relationship is the least developed.
In 2009, there were two deals for the Russian purchase of Israeli UAVs from Israel Aerospace Industries, totaling $100 million. This purchase was followed by a second, $400 million deal, in which UAVs of several different types were assembled in Russia from 2010-2012. Allegedly, the Russian military was impressed by the Israeli-made UAVs that Georgia operated in the 2008 Russo-Georgian war. By purchasing similar drones, Russia hoped to close the technological gap revealed in the conflict. The deal signed between Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and the Russian government through Oboronprom, a Russian defense company, was much more than an arms sale, and involved a five-year direct military cooperation with Israel training at least 50 Russian officers on UAV operations in Tel-Aviv.ANALYSIS: Drone deals heighten military ties between Israel and Russia Other reports cited the deal as a quid pro quo for Russian forbearance on advanced arms sales to Iran and Syria.ANALYSIS: Drone deals heighten military ties between Israel and Russia
In 2014-2015, the two parties negotiated another deal, but it fell through, allegedly due to American sensitivities about the use of drones in Ukraine. Cooperation on drone technology has since ceased, and there have been no significant military sales. The very limited amount of military exports from Israel to Russia (several tens of millions of dollars per year) comprises of non-lethal, low-tech items.Moscow on the Mediterranean: Russia and Israel’s Relationship
The most significant military cooperation between the two countries is a coordination and de-escalation apparatus created in 2015 after the Russian intervention in Syria.Moscow on the Mediterranean: Russia and Israel’s Relationship In 2018 Russian sources reported that the apparatus consists of an operational hotline between the Russian air force command at Khmeimim in Syria and the Israel Air Force operations center in Tel Aviv. The hotline is used to exchange urgent information and to schedule military-to-military meetings between senior officers. There is also direct communication between the Russian and Israeli deputy chiefs of staff and regular communication at multiple levels of the respective military establishments.Moscow on the Mediterranean: Russia and Israel’s Relationship
According to diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks, American officials believed that Russia and Israel had previously traded intelligence on Iranian and Georgian technology with Israel providing “data link codes” on Georgia’s Israeli-made Hermes 450 drones. According to the document, American officials believed that Russia provided information on the defenses of Iran’s nuclear facilities in exchange.ANALYSIS: Drone deals heighten military ties between Israel and Russia
MAKS 2019 – Israel company “ALD” participated.
Usage of Israeli Arms
Bird Eye 400, I-View : authorities of Russian Federation
Searcher II (by IAI): used as Forpost (Форпост) licensed copy by authorities of Russian Federation. In May 2015, Ukraine downed a Forpost drone that was operated by Russia.Russian-owned Israeli UAV downed in Ukraine/ Proof Russian military drones used in Ukraine Other reports showed photographs of crashed Forpost UAVs in the Donetsk Oblast from August 2014 Five Downed Russian Drones in Ukraine
In July 2018 a Russian “Forpost” UAV was found on a field close to the village of Barqah, about 12 kilometres far from the Israeli side of the Golan heights (Syria).
In 2023 videos showed the crash of the Forpost-RU UAV, that is produced in Russia under the license of IAI, in the Belgorod region in Russia. The drone was armed with a KAB-20 bomb.Video shows armed drone crashing into powerlines in Russia
UFED (Cellebrite): documents link Cellebrite’s technology with the persecution of minority groups in Russia. Cellebrite’s technology was used to target the LGBTQ community, opposition forces and minorities in Russia by its Investigative Committee. The Investigative Committee, which has been persecuting Alexey Navalny, Pussy Riot, and LGBTQ+ activist Yulia Tsvetkova, among others, bragged about using Cellebrite’s technology more than 26,000 time. Under pressure from human rights activists, including Eitay Mack, Cellebrite announced in March 2021 that it will halt sales to Russia.Israeli Phone-hacking Firm Cellebrite Vowed Not to Sell to Sanctioned Countries. So What’s It Doing in Belarus?
Human Rights Violations:
According to international human rights organizations and independent domestic media outlets, the following were among the common violations of human rights in Russia:
deaths in custody and the widespread and systematic torture of persons in custody by police, security forces and prison guards; hazing in the Russian Army; neglect and cruelty in Russian orphanages and violations of children’s rights. According to Amnesty International there was discrimination, racism, and murders of members of ethnic minorities. In the years since 1992 at least 50 journalists have been killed, some in armed conflict situations, but others were the target of contract killings. Chechnya was a problem apart and during the Second Chechen War, from September 1999 to 2005, there were numerous instances of summary execution and forced disappearance of civilians there.
In 2019 Russia’s human rights record continued to deteriorate, with the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly consistently restricted, in law and practice. Those attempting to exercise these rights faced reprisals, ranging from harassment to police ill-treatment, arbitrary arrest, heavy fines and in some cases criminal prosecution and imprisonment. Hundreds of Jehovah’s Witnesses were persecuted for their faith. Other vulnerable minorities also faced discrimination and persecution. Counter-terrorism provisions were widely used to target dissent across the country and in Crimea. Torture remained pervasive, as did impunity for its perpetrators. Violence against women remained widespread and inadequately addressed. Refugees were forcibly returned to destinations where they were at risk of torture.
Crimea: The human rights situation in Russia-occupied Crimea continued to deteriorate. Numerous rights, including freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, remained severely restricted. Prominent members of the Crimean Tatar community, pro-Ukrainian activists and any outspoken critics of the de facto authorities were subjected to harassment, intimidation, or politically motivated prosecution. De facto authorities in Crimea continued to harass Crimean Tatars. Since 2015, Russian authorities have prosecuted at least 63 Crimean Tatars on trumped-up terrorism charges and handed down up to 17- year sentences. Independent media and journalists were unable to operate in Crimea, and a growing number of online media resources were blocked.