Netanyahu Sochi trip to focus on military coordination, after Iran exposé

Netanyahu said last week efforts were underway to arrange for another trilateral summit in Jerusalem of US, Russian and Israeli security officials to discuss the removal of Iranian forces from Syria.

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September 10, 2019 15:13
1 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)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will travel to Sochi for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday, the Prime Minister's Office announced on Tuesday.

The one-day trip comes just five days before the September 17 election, and according to what Netanyahu said at Sunday's cabinet meeting, it will focus on “the continuation of military coordination so as to prevent a collision given the upsurge in activity against us by Iran and its proxies, and our increased activity against them.”

Netanyahu and Putin set up a military coordination mechanism in September 2015, soon after Russia became militarily involved in Syria, in order to prevent accidental clashes between the two armies there.

This will be Netanyahu's first meeting with Putin since they met in Moscow on April 4, just five days before the last election. That visit came shortly after Moscow helped Israel gain the remains of IDF Sgt. Zachary Baumel, widely viewed as a gesture to Netanyahu before those elections.

Netanyahu said last week that efforts were underway to arrange for another trilateral summit in Jerusalem of US, Russian and Israeli security officials to discuss the removal of Iranian forces from Syria. The first such meeting took place in June in Jerusalem.

The trip to Russia comes a week after Netanyahu made a lightning visit to London last Thursday, where he met British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, British Secretary of State for Defense Ben Wallace and US Defense Secretary Mark Esper.

The meeting with Putin comes amid foreign reports of increased Israeli action against Iranian assets in the region, including in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.

The intention to meet with Putin so close to the elections has led to speculation that it is driven by the elections and an effort to attract older Russian immigrants to the Likud from Avigdor Liberman's Yisrael Beytenu, or to underline Netanyahu's diplomatic credentials by showcasing his ability meet with Putin at a moment's notice.


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