Despite tensions, Netanyahu makes Vladimir Putin’s holiday greetings list

Every year since at least December 2015, Putin has sent out New Year’s greetings to heads of state and government. The list seems to give some indication of whom Putin deems important.

By
December 30, 2018 19:07
2 minute read.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R)

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R). (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

During the Cold War and the days of the Soviet Union, Western Sovietologists used to carefully watch military parades in Moscow’s Red Square and venture guesses as to who was up and down in the Kremlin’s power struggles by studying who was standing closest to the Soviet leaders.

Now with no Soviet Union, nor any more Sovietologists, that practice has given way to watching Russian President Vladimir Putin, and trying to discern who is and who is not in his good graces.

One way of doing this is looking at who makes his annual New Year’s Day greeting list.

Every year since at least December 2015, Putin has sent out New Year’s greetings to heads of state and government. The list seems to give some indication of whom Putin deems important and worthy of his greetings.

The Kremlin released 2019’s list on Sunday, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu being one of 40 heads of state or government to get a shout out from the Russian president. Netanyahu has been on the list ever since the practice seems to have become a tradition in December 2015.

“In his greeting message to Prime Minister of the State of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu, Vladimir Putin noted that the two countries have gained considerable experience in cooperation in various spheres and expressed hope that in the upcoming year Russian-Israeli relations will be developing in a constructive manner as a partnership for the benefit of the peoples of both states and in the interest of strengthening peace, security and stability in the Middle East,” the Kremlin said in a statement.

Words that Putin used in his message to Netanyahu over the last three years – such as “friendly” and “positive” – were absent from this year’s message.

Nevertheless, Putin’s greeting did came even at a period of tension in the relations between the countries stemming from Russia’s presence in Syria, and Israel’s insistence to act there militarily against Iranian targets. In September, Syria downed a Russian spy plane, killing all 15 crew members aboard, after an Israeli attack on an Iranian target near Damascus. Moscow blamed Israel for that incident.

Noticeably, Putin still sent greetings to Netanyahu. By contrast, in December 2015, soon after Turkey downed a Russian plane over Syria, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan did not make the list of those receiving Christmas and New Year’s greetings that year. Erdogan, however, has been on the list every year since.

Israel, Turkey and Syria are the only Mideast countries on the list this year. Putin told Syrian President Bashar Assad in his greeting that Russia will “continue to provide all-round assistance to the government and people of Syria in their fight against terrorism and efforts to protect state sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Also noticeable in their absence from the list, in addition to every Arab country except for Syria, were all African countries, with the exception of South Africa.

To US President Donald Trump, Putin “stressed that Russia-US relations are the most important factor behind ensuring strategic stability and international security, and reaffirmed that Russia is open to dialogue with the United States on the most extensive agenda.”

The Russian president also send season’s greetings to Queen Elizabeth and Prime Minister Theresa May, despite the tensions in relations between Moscow and London stemming from British accusations that the Kremlin was behind a nerve toxin attack in March on a former double agent and his daughter in Salisbury.


Related Content

Knife attack (descriptive)
October 19, 2019
Resident of Ofakim storms a police station, stabs officer with stick

By HAGAY HACOHEN

Cookie Settings