Russia has worked behind the scenes providing Hezbollah a diplomatic cover in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), the Israeli Haaretz newspaper reported citing Israeli sources.
According to the newspaper, Russia threatened to veto US and Israeli moves against Hezbollah as the UNSC weighed extending and expanding a mandate of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).
The Russian side allegedly pushed to remove “the direct reference to Hezbollah as conducting prohibited military activity in southern Lebanon that is in violation of Resolution 1701.”
As a result the UNSC unanimously voted to renew Resolution 1701 last week but only after the US and Israel had agreed to remove paragraphs that were critical of Hezbollah.
The US-Israeli attempt to use the resolution to put an additional pressure on Hezbollah in southern Lebanon failed.
Haaretz linked this with the Russian involvement in the ongoing Syrian conflict where Moscow sided with the Assad government, Tehran and Hezbollah in a battle against ISIS and al-Qaeda.
The UNIFIL patrols Lebanon’s southern border with Israel where Hezbollah has a strong presence. The US and Israel describe Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized the resolution and blamed Hezbollah for alleged arms trafficking in southern Lebanon.
The UNSC discussion over Resolution 1701 followed a meeting between Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Russian city of Sochi where the Israeli prime minister was attempting to bargain with the Russian leadership over the future of Syria. The Israeli leadership is concerned over the growing Shia influence in the country. However, it seems Netaniyahu failed to gain a Russian support over this issue.