Russia: We won't move embassy to Jerusalem

Despite steps to recognize western Jerusalem as Israel's capital, Russia says it won't transfer its embassy.

David Rosenberg ,

Russian President Putin
Russian President Putin

The Russian government will not be moving its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Russia’s ambassador said Thursday night, despite signals from Moscow that Russia has shifted its stance on the Israeli capital.

In 2017, Russia’s foreign ministry explicitly recognized the western portion of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city.

“We view West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” the Foreign Ministry in Moscow said in a statement.

Hitherto, Russia had not recognized Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state, and like most countries, maintained an embassy in the coastal city of Tel Aviv.

Last year, following the opening of the new US embassy in Jerusalem, Russia’s mission to Israel held its annual “National Day” celebration in Jerusalem, rather than in Tel Aviv for the first time ever.

Despite these moves, however, on Thursday, Russian ambassador to Israel Anatoly Viktorov told the Russian TASS outlet that his government would not be relocating its embassy to Jerusalem.

"The issue of transferring the Russian embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is outside the agenda. Russia is committed to the international legal framework concerning Jerusalem, including corresponding United Nations Security Council resolutions," Viktorov said.

The US, Paraguay, and Guatemala relocated their embassies to Jerusalem in 2017, though Paraguay later transferred its embassy back to Tel Aviv, after a change in administration in the Paraguayan government.

A number of countries, including Australia, Brazil, and the Czech Republic have suggested they may also move their embassies to the Israeli capital city.