(persia digest) - Russia's efforts to mediate between Iran and Israel is in line with Moscow's policy to preserve ties with both sides and not not taking sides in case of a military engagement, an expert on Russian affairs said.

Speaking to the press on the sidelines of the 73rd UN General Assembly in late September, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said his country is ready to mediate the improvement of relations between Israel and Iran.

On 6 October, London-based newspaper Asharq Al Awsat reported that Russia is aiming to "reduce tensions and prevent friction" in Syria by opening channels of communication between Tel Aviv and Tehran.

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This is while Tehran does not recognize the Israeli regime and the two sides, in practice, are in a cold-war state of affairs.

"Russia, as a country that has relations with both Iran and Israel, has interests to prevent tensions flaring up between Iran and Israel. This issue becomes more important for Russia as Tehran and Tel Aviv are experiencing increased tensions in Syria," Mahmoud Shouri, who is also a member of Tehran–based Center for Strategic Research, told Persia Digest (PD).

"Russia is aware of Iran's stance regarding the Zionist regime, but by floating such diplomatic proposals they are making their stance clear in case of a war," he said, adding that the whole episode looks like wishful thinking rather than an action plan for Russia.

"Russian officials are telling both sides that in case of military engagement, they will not take sides and will not sacrifice one side in favor of the other," Shouri said.

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The expert maintains that the signal Lavrov was trying to get across when proposing Russia's mediation was that Moscow, in case of a direct or indirect escalation, "will be neutral. However, this neutrality will be positive."

"This is because Russia's interests are on the line here and it would try not to let Iran-Israel tensions become serious in Syria," he explained.

Commenting on whether Russia will activate the newly-delivered S-300 surface-to-air missile system in Syria to counter Israeli attacks against the resistance forces (aligned with Iran), Shouri said: "This comes down to the agreement made between Moscow and Damascus and the extent of Russian control over the system. Therefore, Iran or resistance forces are not a point of consideration in this regard."

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