Moscow: Russia is apparently moving ahead on its intention to procure unmanned Israeli reconnaissance drones, with high level Russian officials reported to be in talks with defence contractor Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). Russian interest in Israeli drones has suddenly come to the fore after being realizing the effectiveness of these aircraft which were extensively used against them by Georgia in their recent conflict.
The Russian Kommersant daily reported that the head of Russia's armed forces, General Vladimir Popovkin, visited Israel around the end of last month for talks regarding the purchase with Israel's defence ministry and Israel Aerospace Industries.
The paper quoted a Russian arms industry official as saying that a contract for producing drones was almost certain to be awarded to Israel Aerospace Industries.
The paper also quoted an Israeli defence ministry official as saying a decision had been taken 'at the highest level but the further fate of the contract is still being discussed.'
Defence experts say Russia not only found itself working practically blind because of a lack of drones during August's military thrust into Georgia, but even found itself at the receiving end through an attack that seriously wounded Russia's commander in the Caucasus, General Anatoly Khrulev.
Weapons trade between Israel and Russia is a touchy subject because of Washington's sensitivities and Russia's arms supplies to Israel's foes in the Middle East, Syria and Iran.