Ahead of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's trip to the Middle East, a journey which is to include Israel, Vladimir Trofimov, an official in the ministry's Middle East department called Lebanon a warm-up for a coming US-Iranian war:
If we look at Israeli and U.S. plans, they aim at removing the Hezbollah factor ahead of the forthcoming U.S. settling of accounts with Iran,"he said. Trofimov criticized Israel's calls for Hizbullah's eradication and, implicitly, its past lobbying to have the group recognized as a terrorist organization. "Hezbollah is a part of the Shi'ite community in Lebanon," the diplomat told a Russian newspaper. Trofimov also reiterated Russia's opposition to the use of force against Iran (Reuters in Ha'aretz).