MOSCOW—Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin met in Moscow Monday for talks on regional security issues, foremost among them Israel’s concerns over the growing Iranian presence in Syria and Lebanon.
While the two leaders made no mention of Iranian involvement in Syria in their public statements, Netanyahu said prior to leaving for Moscow that Iran was engaged in “relentless efforts” to establish a military presence in Syria and was attempting to turn Lebanon into “one giant missile site” aimed at Israel.
Netanyahu alluded to Iran when attending a ceremony at the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center in Moscow where he and Putin visited an exhibition marking the 1943 uprising at the Sobibor death camp. “I think that the main lesson of the rise of the Nazis and, afterwards, their defeat, is that one needs to take a strong and timely stand against murderous ideologies,” Netanyahu told Putin after viewing the exhibit.
“This is also our mission today,” Netanyahu continued, “and it is to this end that I want to speak with you, about our common efforts to promote security and stability in our region, and – of course – the cooperation between us, between Russia and Israel. Our talks, which we hold periodically, in my view, greatly contribute to achieving these goals and I am certain that they will do so now as well.”
Russian Presidential Aide Yuri Ushakov confirmed to reporters that Netanyahu and Putin had discussed the situation in Syria, including the ongoing Russian-sponsored Syrian National Dialogue, however he declined to provide further details.
Israel’s ambassador to Moscow, Gary Koren, expanded on security ties between the two countries in an interview published Monday by the Russian state news agency TASS.
Koren told TASS that Tel Aviv and Moscow have been holding regular consultations on the situation in Syria and that cooperation between the sides was “sufficient and positive.”
“The main achievement is that we have been holding consultations and exchanging views, and we also exchange information occasionally,” Koren said. “Even though there are some differences between us, I believe that both we and Russia are generally content,” he added.