Netanyahu: Israel in ‘close contact’ with Moscow to avoid issues over Syria

“The reality in the Middle East is changing very rapidly, and not necessarily to our detriment.”

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November 16, 2016 05:53
1 minute read.
Netanyahu Putin

Benjamin Netanyahu and Vladimir Putin.. (photo credit: GPO)

 
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Israel is in “close contact” with Moscow, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday, the day Russia launched a major new offensive in Syria.

Netanyahu, on a visit to the new military training complex named after Ariel Sharon in the Negev, was asked about Russia’s presence in Syria by a soldier.

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He replied that he has met four times with Russian President Vladimir Putin over the last year. The purpose of those meetings, he added, was “strengthening the contact so there will not be any collision that no one wants between the IDF and the Russian Army.”

Until now, Netanyahu said, there has been no such accidental engagement, and it is hoped that there will not be one. Netanyahu flew to Moscow in September 2015, shortly after Russia became actively engaged in the fighting in Syria, to establish a “deconfliction” mechanism between the two militaries.

In addition to his meetings with Putin, Netanyahu has also spoken on the phone with the Russian leader six times since the beginning of the year. In addition, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev visited Israel and met with Netanyahu last week.

“The reality in the Middle East is changing very rapidly, and not necessarily to our detriment,” the prime minister told the soldiers.

“The most important thing is that we will be very strong. Everyone runs away from the weak. We are very strong, and you strengthen us.”

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