(September 11, 2019 / JNS) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to make a visit to visit to Russia on Thursday, just days before the country heads to the polls in a national election.
According to the Prime Minister’s Office, Netanyahu will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, where the two leaders “will discuss regional issues including the situation in Syria, with an emphasis on tightening the military coordination mechanisms.”
Netanyahu, who will be accompanied by the director of the National Security Council, GOC Intelligence and GOC Operations, will also meet with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.
The meeting with Russian officials comes amid growing tensions between Israel, Iran and its terror proxy Hezbollah in Syria and Lebanon.
Russia, which entered in the Syria conflict in 2015 on the side of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, has had a working defense mechanism with Israel to avoid inadvertent conflict. Nevertheless, Israel has pushed Russia to oust Iran from Syria, where it is attempting to establish a permanent presence and launch attacks on Israel.
At the same time, Netanyahu has a history of highlighting his relationship with world leaders ahead of elections.
Netanyahu also met with Putin days ahead of the country’s April 9 election, where the Russians helped facilitate the return of the remains of Israeli tank commander Zachary Baumel, who went missing in the First Lebanon War in 1982.
The visit may also be part of a strategy to pull votes away from rival Avigdor Lieberman, who heads the Yisrael Beiteinu Party, which relies on support from Israelis with roots in the Soviet Union.
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