Amid heightened tensions on Israel’s northern border and reports that the IDF hit targets in Syria overnight, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu headed for Moscow Wednesday morning for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“The meetings between us are always important and this one is especially so. In light of what is currently happening in Syria, it is necessary to ensure the continued coordination between the Russian military and the IDF,” Netanyahu said.
The two leaders have met several times since Israel and Russia put in place a deconfliction mechanism to avoid aerial clashes in the wake of Moscow’s intervention in the Syrian civil war in late 2015. However, while relations between Netanyahu and Putin are considered warm, tensions have ratcheted up over reported Israeli strikes against Iranian targets in the country.
Following a strike on Iranian positions at the T-4 Airbase, which Russia attributed publicly to Israel, Moscow’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov called the strike a ‘dangerous development’ and Israel’s ambassador Gary Koren was rebuked by Russian officials.
Russian affairs analyst Micky Aharonson of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies said that Russia is the one country that enjoys the trust of both Israel and Iran and had the ability to use its good offices with both countries to prevent potential conflict or the explosion of the current situation.”
“I think the Israeli prime minister … will, of course, discuss Iran and will expect Russia to behave as the responsible adult who can leverage its influence and prevent an escalation in the area,” Aharonson said in a conference call with The Israel Project.