Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) welcomes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Sochi, Russia August 23, 2017..
(photo credit: SPUTNIK/ALEXEI NIKOLSKY/KREMLIN VIA REUTERS)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke by phone on Monday and agreed to meet “soon” to discuss the latest regional developments, according to both the Prime Minister’s Office and the Kremlin.
The last time the two met was in August in Sochi, though they have spoken a number of times since then, primarily focusing on Syria.
Russia, whose entrance into the Syrian Civil War in 2015 turned the tide in favor of Syrian President Bashar Assad, is a key player in talks determining what the country will look like after the civil war. Netanyahu has told Putin on numerous occasions that Israel will not tolerate an entrenched Iranian military presence inside Syria.
Since Moscow’s active engagement in the war, Israel and Russia have had an effective deconfliction mechanism in place to ensure that there is no accidental engagement between the two countries’ forces.
The phone call came a day after the two exchanged New Year’s greetings.
On Sunday, Netanyahu issued a statement praising Putin for the “excellent ties” between the two countries. Putin, in a statement the Kremlin put out about the Russian president’s holiday greetings to heads of state and government around the world, addressed Netanyahu and noted that “Russian-Israeli relations are of a friendly and constructive nature.”
Putin stressed that he wanted to further consolidate bilateral cooperation “in politics, trade, the economy, culture and other areas,” as well as to work together in “ensuring stability and security in the Middle East.”