Prime Minsiter Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Russia's National Security Council head Nikolai Patrushev.
(photo credit: CHAIM TZACH/GPO)
Russia has a special interest in Israel’s security because just under two million “countrymen” live here, Nikolai Patrushev, the head of Russia’s National Security Council, said Sunday before meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“We put special attention on ensuring Israel’s security,” he said.
Patrushev arrived on Monday to take part in a trilateral meeting with US National Security Adviser John Bolton, who arrived on Saturday, and his Israeli counterpart, Meir Ben-Shabbat. Netanyahu will also take part in the meeting, which is scheduled for Tuesday.
Patrushev, in brief public comments in Russian before the meeting that were translated into Hebrew, said he is in the country at the instructions of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who agreed on this format during talks with Netanyahu.
He said that talks will focus on the situation in Syria. “In order to solve the situation in Syria, there is a need to restore peace in the region and in Syria,” he said. “To achieve those goals, steps are needed to ensure internal order in Syria and the destruction of the terrorist groups that still remain there.”
While Patrushev did not mention Iran in his remarks, Netanyahu certainly did, reiterating Israel’s position that it will not allow Iran to entrench itself along Israel’s Syrian border.
Netanyahu noted that this week marked the 78th anniversary of the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, known as Operation Barbarossa, when the “Russian people were attacked in the most formidable and cruel way by the Nazis.”
He said that because of this tragic past, Russia surely understands “what is the significance for us of a regime calling for our destruction, not only to occupy us – [but] to destroy us, and which acts day after day to achieve that goal.”
For that reason, Netanyahu told Patrushev – who said last week that he would represent Iran’s positions during his meetings here as well – that Israel will not allow Iran to entrench itself in Syria, and will do everything to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons.
“Self-defense is an important lesson from the 20th century, certainly for the Jewish people and our state,” he said. “On this occasion, I would like to thank President Putin for his statement that Israel’s security is important for Russia. He has said it many times, and I very much appreciate it.”
Netanyahu said that Israeli-Russian security cooperation has contributed “greatly to the security and stability in our region, and has brought about a substantive change in the situation in the region.”
He also thanked Russia for all it has done to retrieve the remains of Israeli soldiers, signaling out for special mention its facilitation of the return to Israel earlier this year of the remains of Zachary Baumel, who went missing during the Lebanon War at the Battle of Sultan Yacoub in June 1982.
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