President Reuven Rivlin lands in Moscow, Russia, March 15, 2016.
(photo credit: Mark Neiman/GPO)
President Reuven Rivlin will seek an understanding of how Moscow envisions the future of Syria when he meets Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin on Wednesday, just two days after Putin's startling announcement of a military pullback from that war-wracked country.
“There is a need for coordination with Russia regarding the current situation,” Rivlin told reporters en route to Russia on Tuesday.
“Everyone understands that Islamic State is a danger to the entire world, but the Shiite fundamentalist Islam of Iran is for us no less a threat,” he said.
One senior Israeli official said that Israel still does not completely understand what was behind Putin's surprise announcement.
According to the official, the central goal of Rivlin’s talks with Putin will be to discuss the day after the civil war in Syria and the efforts at Geneva to negotiate a political solution to the ongoing crisis.
“We don't want Iran or Hezbollah to come out of this process strengthened,” the official said. “The president will stress these points and discuss how to ensure that this will not happen.”
According to the official, Israel understands fully well the Russian interests in the region, and the Russians also understand Israel's concerns.
“This is not a zero-sum game,” the official said. “Russia has interests similar to ours. They also do not want to see a strong Iran that will spread terror on Russia's southern border. The Russians also understand that it will not be good if Hezbollah remains and becomes established in Syria.”
Hours before leaving for Russia on the state visit planned well in advance of Moscow's announcement of the troop pull-back, Rivlin spoke with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eizenkot to coordinate positions. He also received an intelligence and military briefing in the morning before heading for Moscow.