Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu .
(photo credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Thursday in the aftermath of a phone conversation between the two leaders on military coordination in Syria.
Putin had spoken with Netanyahu on Monday at Israel’s request.
“We talked about the situation in Syria and the continued coordination between the IDF and the Russian Army. You know how important this relationship is for Israel,” Netanyahu said.
Both the Prime Minister’s Office and the Kremlin confirmed Tuesday that a brief working meeting would now be held between the two leaders, just five days before the April 9 Israelis elections.
“An agreement has been reached that on April 4, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu will fly to Moscow for a brief working visit. On April 4, such brief working talks will be held and the sides will synchronize their watches,” Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed, according to the Russian News Agency TASS.
As part of his election campaign, Netanyahu has hammered home his diplomatic successes, including his strong ties with both Russia and the United States.
Last month, Netanyahu met with US President Donald Trump in the White House. At the end of February, he also visited Putin in Moscow. This week, he is hosting Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro in Jerusalem.
Election campaigning aside, however, Israel and Russia have joint interests in regional issues, such as Syria, particularly given the Russian military’s involvement in the country and Israel’s continued aerial strikes against military targets.
After the February meeting, Netanyahu told journalists that an Israeli-Russian task force had between set up to ensure the removal of foreign forces from Syria.
Israel is particularly concerned about Iranian efforts to entrench itself militarily in Syria so that it can use that country as a base from which to attack the Jewish state.
It is also concerned about increased Hezbollah activity in southern Syria, which borders Israel.
Last week, Israel allegedly carried out an aerial attack against an Iranian munitions depot.
After the Trump-Netanyahu meeting, a senior Israeli official told reporters that the prime minister had presented the president with a plan to remove the Iranians from Syria, and that he is also trying to enlist Putin’s support for that plan. The Kremlin denied that the topic was raised in the February meeting.
Also likely on the agenda for the Netanyahu-Putin meeting is Trump’s declaration last month recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which Russia has opposed. Thursday’s meeting between Putin and Netanyahu will be their first since that declaration.
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