On Tuesday, Russian military engineers landed in Beirut. Their arrival signaled the first time that Russian forces have openly deployed in the Middle East. In the past Soviet forces in Syria and Egypt operated under the official cover of "military advisers." Today those "advisers" are "engineers." The Russian forces, which will officially number some 550 troops, are tasked with rebuilding a number of bridges that the IDF destroyed during the recent war. They will operate outside the command of UNIFIL.
Russian backing of Hizbullah, like its support for Syria and Iran, has been matched by its extreme, Cold War-esque hostility towards Israel. On Tuesday, Channel 2 reported that for the past few months Putin has been obsessively demanding that the government transfer proprietary rights and control to the Russian government over the Russian Compound, which has served as a police station since the British Mandate, and other Russian historical buildings in central Jerusalem.
Then there is Russia's unstinting support for Iran's nuclear weapons program. During the latest of his frequent visits to Teheran Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced, yet again, that Russia opposes all international sanctions against Iran. Indeed, since Iran's nuclear program was exposed three years ago, Russia has acted as Iran's defender against every US attempt to galvanize the international community to take action to prevent Iran from achieving nuclear weapons capabilities.
In 1967 Russia played a central role in fanning the flames of war in Syria. In the months that preceded the Six Day War, Moscow fed Damascus a steady diet of false intelligence indicating that Israel was planning to invade. In the summer of 1973, the Soviets also encouraged Syria to join Egypt in invading Israel.
And Abu Dana's (Olmert) response to the impending threat?
According to Channel 2, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is now leaning towards capitulating to Russia's demands and transferring proprietorship over the Russian Compound to the Russian government during his upcoming visit to Moscow.
As to Syria, rather than crafting a Syria policy, the government argues about the desirability of giving Syria the Golan Heights now or later. Above and beyond all else, as Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Amir Peretz proclaim, from the government's perspective, the best way to deal with the growing military threats is to ignore them and destroy Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria.
ANY OBJECTIVE observer of the developments in our region understands that the storm of war is rapidly approaching us. With Moscow's blessing, the Palestinians, Hizbullah, Syria and Iran are steadfastly preparing for battle.
Not sure what the Israelis are waiting for but the clock is ticking. Throw those bums out.
UPDATE: More Russian "peacekeepers" in Georgia here