Russian President Vladimir Putin called prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday to congratulate him on forming a government, just a day after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made his highly publicized visit to Washington.
Details of Netanyahu’s call with Putin, who has become an international pariah in the West due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, were published Thursday morning by Netanyahu’s Likud party.
Netanyahu told Putin “he hopes a way will be found quickly to end the war [with Ukraine] and the suffering it has caused,” the Likud said.
The two also discussed regional issues such as Iran’s attempt to entrench itself militarily in Syria, which borders Israel. During his previous term as prime minister, Netanyahu worked out a deconfliction agreement with Russia whose army operates in Syria, to allow Israel to conduct aerial attacks against Iranian targets and their proxies without tangling with Russian forces.
Since Netanyahu left office in 2021, Russia has tightened its military alliance with Iran, which has provided Moscow with armed drones for its war in Ukraine.
Netanyahu told Putin he “is determined to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and to halt its attempts to establish a military base on our northern border.”
Putin's first public call to Netanyahu since the elections
This is Putin’s first public call to Netanyahu since he won the election on November 1. After that victory, which allowed Netanyahu to work to form a government, Zelensky called Netanyahu, as did US President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
Putin’s call came as international attention was focused on Biden’s warm welcome to Zelensky at the White House and the standing ovation he received after addressing the US Congress.
When last in office, Netanyahu balanced strong ties with both Moscow and Washington, a move that will now be complicated by the war in Ukraine and Biden’s unabashed support for Kyiv.
Israel has been one of the countries that have acted as a mediator between Russia and Ukraine.
According to the Kremlin, the two men “expressed confidence that Russian-Israeli relations will continue to develop consistently through contacts at different levels.”
He also sent Hanukkah greetings to “Netanyahu and all the Israeli people.”