Netanyahu and Putin.
(photo credit: IVAN SEKRETAREV / POOL / AFP)
The Syrian army is in no position to open up an additional front, and Moscow's main goal in its involvement in Syria is to defend that country, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the outset of his meeting on the outskirts of Moscow Monday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Putin's comments, issued in a statement released by the Prime Minister's Office, came after Netanyahu said that the purpose of his visit to Russia was to discuss with Putin the “increasingly complicated situation” on Israel's northern border.
“Over the last number of years, and even more so over the last few months, Iran and Syria are arming the radical Islamic terrorist organization Hezbollah with advanced weaponry that is directed at us, and has already been fired at us,” Netanyahu said alongside Putin.
In parallel, Netanyahu said, Iran – under the cover of the Syrian army – is trying to “build a second terrorist front against us from the Golan Heights.”
Netanyahu said that Israel's declared position is to prevent the transfer of advanced weapons to Hezbollah and also prevent a new front on the Golan.
“For these reasons I thought it was very important to come here, both in order to make clear our positions, and also to ensure that there will not be any misunderstandings between our forces,” Netanyahu said.
Putin, in response, said that Russia's actions in the region are “always very responsible.” He said that he is aware that Israel has been fired upon from Syria, and has condemned that, but added that those weapons were locally produced. With that, he said that he understood Israel's concerns.
The Russian president said that he never forgets that there are a “great many” immigrants from the former Soviet Union living in Israel, and that this is something that has special significance for Israeli-Russian relations.
Netanyahu pointed out that in all the contacts between him and Putin, when they agreed on issues as well as when they disagreed, the dialogue was always conducted openly and “with mutual respect.”