Russian President Vladimir Putin is planning to make his first official
visit to Israel since 2005, although the exact date for the visit has
not yet been determined, the Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.
of Putin's expected visit came as Russia was the center of controversy
for its continued support of Syrian President Bashar Assad, despite his
brutal crackdown on dissenters. In addition, Russia has been seen as an
impediment to harsher international action against Iran for its
continued pursuit of nuclear technology. Putin has warned of the dire
consequences of a potential Israeli or US attack on the Islamic
Republic's nuclear facilities.
Foreign Minster Avigdor Liberman met with Putin in Moscow
in December amid reports that Russia had delivered Yaknot cruise
missiles to Syria, despite US and Israeli lobbying against the move.
to a communiqué put out by Liberman’s office following the December
meeting, he told Putin that Israel and Russia had different positions on
a range of issues, from the diplomatic process with the Palestinians to
current developments in the region, but that he hoped Israel’s position
on matters such as Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas would get a hearing in
Regarding the Palestinian issue, Liberman said Russia’s
support for unilateral Palestinian moves does not bring an agreement
closer or improve relations between Israel and the Palestinians.
Israel’s position is that the type of support Russia has articulated for
the PA’s moves at the UN only increase the Palestinians’ belief that
they can get the world to impose a solution on Israel, thus making it
more difficult to lure them to return to the negotiating table.
that, Liberman said ties between the countries are “very positive” 20
years after the renewal of diplomatic relations between them, and that
this was manifest in an ongoing political dialogue, in economic and
cultural ties and in keeping alive the memory of the Holocaust.
extended an invitation to Putin from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu,
who was last in Moscow in early 2010. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry
Medvedev had planned to visit Israel in January 2011, but had to suffice
with meeting Palestinian Authority officials in Jericho, where he
arrived for a few hours from Jordan, because a Foreign Ministry work
dispute prevented a full state visit to Jerusalem.