Putin congratulated Lapid in a letter after he became PM

Letters between Lapid and Putin were published in response to a story about the Russian ambassador allegedly saying Lapid brought “difficulties” to Israel-Russia relations.

 Russian President Vladimir Putin takes part in a ceremony to launch a new large-scale production facility at the plant of Bratskchemsyntez drugmaker owned by Pharmasyntez Group, via a video link at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, Russia November 26, 2020 (photo credit: SPUTNIK/ALEKSEY NIKOLSKYI/KREMLIN VIA REUTERS)
Russian President Vladimir Putin takes part in a ceremony to launch a new large-scale production facility at the plant of Bratskchemsyntez drugmaker owned by Pharmasyntez Group, via a video link at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, Russia November 26, 2020
(photo credit: SPUTNIK/ALEKSEY NIKOLSKYI/KREMLIN VIA REUTERS)

Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday published letters exchanged between President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Yair Lapid in which Putin congratulated him on assuming the office of prime minister early in July.

The letters, dated July 5, were published in response to a story published by Russian newspaper Kommersant detailing what Ambassador Anatoly Viktorov allegedly called “difficulties” brought on by Lapid’s ascension to the office of prime minister and which claimed that Putin had not sent congratulations to him since he became PM. 

The Russian Embassy in Israel sent the letter to the Prime Minister’s Office, saying they had the “honour to forward… [a] congratulatory message from the President of the Russian Federation, Mr. Vladimir Putin.”

Lapid assumed office on July 1 and has been at odds with Russia over the possible closure of the Jewish Agency’s offices there. His letter, dated July 6, thanked Putin directly for his message. “​​The relations between the State of Israel and the Russian Federation are deep-rooted. I look forward to the ongoing, open dialogue between us, for the benefit of both our peoples."

“​​The relations between the State of Israel and the Russian Federation are deep rooted. I look forward to the ongoing, open dialogue between us, for the benefit of both our peoples."

-Yair Lapid
Prime Minister Yair Lapid speaks during a ceremony to welcome US President Joe Biden in Israel, at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel, July 13, 2022 (credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)Prime Minister Yair Lapid speaks during a ceremony to welcome US President Joe Biden in Israel, at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel, July 13, 2022 (credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)

Israel-Russia relations under Lapid

While then-prime minister Naftali Bennett met with Putin and attempted to mediate a ceasefire in the midst of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February, Lapid, who held the title of foreign minister at the time,  directly condemned Russia’s invasion – a move that Bennett and other prominent Israeli politicians were looking to avoid.

Hours later, Bennett sent a message of support to the Ukrainian people but did not repeat Lapid's condemnation of the invasion of Ukraine. Lapid, however, repeated his condemnation in a visit to Romania in March.

Russia ordered the Jewish Agency to cease operations in Russia before July 5, just days after Lapid became PM. The same day, The Jerusalem Post learned that the Jewish Agency of Russia was reportedly ordered to shut down their operations.