Netanyahu to meet Putin amid friction between Jerusalem and Moscow

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that he plans to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the near future to discuss security coordination with regard to Syria, amid friction with Moscow over Israel’s air operations in the war-torn-country. Netanyahu made the announcement at a cabinet meeting, without citing a specific date for the talks with Putin yet emphasized that Israel will continue to act against Iran’s attempts to establish itself militarily in Israel’s northern neighbor. The Israeli Prime Minister stated that “A short time ago I spoke with President Putin. We agreed to meet soon in order to continue the important security coordination between our armies. Israel will act at all times to prevent Iran from establishing a military presence in Syria and to thwart the transfer of lethal weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon.” The meeting will be the first time the two leaders meet since a Russian military-spy-plane was shot down by Syrian S-200 air-defense systems during an Israeli air raid against Iranian targets, a tragic incident that led Moscow to upgrade the Assad regime air-defenses. While Israeli officials have emphasized that the new Syrian air-defense system could be easily overcome by Israel’s stealth fighters and possibly destroyed on the ground, pledging to press on with efforts to prevent military entrenchment by Iran in Syria, there have been no reports of Israeli air strikes in the war-torn-country. According to various reports, Jerusalem was either holding back at Moscow’s request or paused the attacks against Iran over concerns of fueling additional tension with Russia, which could possibly lead to an all-out military escalation.