Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is headed to Moscow next week for a whirlwind trip, during which he is set to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin and visit an exhibition on the Holocaust.
On the agenda of his meeting with Putin will be Iran’s attempts to entrench itself militarily in Syria, since Moscow is one of the key allies of both Damascus and Tehran. Other issues likely to come up in their talks will be the future of the Iranian nuclear deal, of which Russia is one of the signatories, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
On Monday morning, Netanyahu will fly on a small plane to the Russian capital, and return to Israel several hours later.
Netanyahu’s trip to Moscow comes on the heels of a weeklong trip to India earlier this month and a three-day stay in Switzerland to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos this week. In February, he is scheduled to participate in the Munich Security Conference, and the following month in the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, DC.
The Israeli and Russian militaries have a so-called deconfliction mechanism to ensure the two armies do not clash over Syrian skies. In recent months, top Israeli security advisers have met with their Russian counterparts regularly to maintain cooperation in this regard.
“Look, when I saw that Russia’s placing military forces, air power, some ground power, and anti-aircraft weapons in Syria, I decided that the wisest thing to do was to go and speak to Mr. Putin directly,” Netanyahu told foreign reporters at a reception last week.
“And I said, look, you have your interests in Syria, and we have our interest, which is not to be attacked by Iran and its proxies from the soil of Syria either directly or through the provision of offensive weapons, very deadly weapons that are filtered through Syria into Lebanon to a warfront that Iran is building in Lebanon.”
Israel will continue to take action against any threats emanating from Syria, he went on. “And the most important thing I think is to make sure that we understand each other and that we don’t shoot down each other’s planes.
And we decided to do what is called in this awful jargon deconfliction, which means not shooting each other. And we established a mechanism to do that, and that mechanism holds secure.”
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