Netanyahu heads to Moscow for Putin meeting

Israel’s prime minister will travel to Moscow today to discuss strategic issues and mark 25 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Speaking yesterday, PM Benjamin Netanyahu said that ties with Russia are important “for our national security and prevented unnecessary violence along our borders,” in what was likely a reference to ongoing coordination between Israeli and Russian militaries, to ensure that their activities do not conflict near the Syrian border. Russia’s air force continues to support the Assad regime in Syria, while Israel has admitted to undertaking occasional action to prevent the transfer of weapons to terror groups such as Hezbollah and to prevent terror threats on the Golan Heights.

Netanyahu’s office said that he and President Vladimir Putin “will also discuss various regional issues including the global fight against terrorism, the situation in and around Syria and the diplomatic horizon between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as bilateral economic and trade cooperation and the strengthening of cultural and humanitarian ties”. In particular, Russia’s sale of the S-300 advanced anti-missile system to Iran will likely be discussed, as it would significantly improve Iran’s defensive capability against air strikes.

Netanyahu’s visit will be his third to Russia since September 2015. It marks 25 years since Israel and Russia established diplomatic ties following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Israeli delegation is expected to sign two agreements with Russian counterparts during the visit. Outgoing Immigrant and Absorption Minister Ze’ev Elkin will finalise an agreement on pensions for immigrants to Israel from the former-Soviet Union. Meanwhile, Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel is poised to pen a memorandum of understanding over dairy produce.

Netanyahu is scheduled to visit the museum where an Israeli tank captured during the First Lebanon War in 1982 is housed. Three of the tank crew have been missing ever since the battle of Sultan Yacoub. Putin agreed last month to return the tank to Israel.


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