With the Muslim Brotherhood now in charge in Egypt and Syria in flames, Russian
President Vladimir Putin will make his first visit to the volatile region on
Monday since becoming president again in May, with a quick two-day journey to
Israel and Jordan.
While Putin is scheduled to hold a lengthy meeting
with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in the afternoon – a one-on-one
discussion followed by a larger meeting with staff and other ministers – the
bulk of the visit will be symbolic: the dedication of a monument to the Red Army
for its victory over Nazi Germany, a state dinner with President Shimon Peres
and a visit to Bethlehem.
The focus of the Netanyahu- Putin talks is
expected to be on Iran and Syria, where the two countries have wide differences
While Israel has said repeatedly that the talks between the
world powers and Iran are going nowhere, and only giving Iran more time to move
its nuclear program forward, the Russian position is to give the diplomatic
process more time.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said last week on a
Russian television network that in order to settle the Iranian issue, “it’s
necessary to refrain from constant threats of using force, abandon scenarios
aimed against Iran and stop dismissing the talks as failure.”
Syria, while Israeli leaders have condemned the bloodshed and called for Syrian
President Bashar Assad’s ouster, Russia is providing him with political and
Despite the differences, Defense Minister Ehud Barak
said in an interview with The Washington Post
last week that he thought the
Russians could – “in an honest, frank discussion” – be convinced to cooperate on
Syria. “They could have a major role in helping to solve the Syrian issue,” he
Also expected on the agenda are Sunday’s dramatic developments in
Egypt where the Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsy was declared the country’s new
president, though Russia has little to no influence in Cairo.
will be met at the airport in the morning by Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman,
will go directly to Netanya and dedicate – together with Peres – a memorial to
the Red Army’s victory over Nazi Germany. Netanyahu, who was originally
scheduled to attend the ceremony, has canceled because of his broken leg and
will meet Putin in Jerusalem.
In addition to his close advisers, the
prime minister has also invited Liberman, Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs
Minister Yuli Edelstein and Likud MK Ze’ev Elkin – all native Russian speakers –
to an afternoon meeting with Putin.
In addition, Kadima chairman Shaul
Mofaz, who met for some 30 minutes in Washington last week with US President
Barack Obama, is scheduled to attend, as is the defense
Following that meeting, Putin will meet Peres, who will then
host the state dinner.
On Tuesday the Russian president will go to
Bethlehem and dedicate a Russian cultural center, and from there to the Allenby
Bridge and Jordan for a meeting with King Abdullah, before flying
Putin will be accompanied by some 400 people, flying in on four
different planes. The massive entourage includes Putin’s staff, a large number
of businesspeople and around 60 journalists.