Lieberman Kicks Off Russian Defense Minister's Israel Visit: 'We Don’t Always Agree, but We're Always Open'

Sergey Shoygu was welcomed at official ceremony in Tel Aviv; he is scheduled to meet with Netanyahu on Tuesday

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoygu at the official welcoming ceremony, the Kirya, Tel Aviv, Oct 16, 2017.
Tomer Appelbaum

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman met with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Shoygu, on Monday after the latter arrived to Israel for an official visit.

Shoygu was welcomed at an official ceremony at Hakirya, the general command base of the Defense Ministry and the Israel Defense Forces in Tel Aviv.

Shoygu is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday. During the visit, he will also be presented with Israel's reading of Iran's efforts to establish itself in Syria, and the implications of those developments on Israel.

"I am very happy to see the Russian defense minister in Israel," Lieberman said, adding that it was the Shoygu's first visit since assuming the role in 2012.

"We very much appreciate our relations with Russia, particularly their openness and honesty. We don’t always agree, but we always speak in an honest and open manner," he said.

"We believe that whenever there is open dialogue we can overcome all problems," he added. 

In addition, Shoygu and Lieberman are expected to discuss the closer security coordination between the two countries.

That coordination was exemplified earlier on Monday, when Israel notified the Russian operations center in Syria that it would attack a Syrian SA-5 anti-aircraft missile battery operating within an area covered by Russian anti-aircraft batteries and fighter planes. The attack was in response to a missile fired by the Syrian battery on Israel Air Force planes carrying out a reconnaissance run in Lebanese airspace.

Though Shoygu's visit was organized a while ago, some members of the defense establishment consider it significant in light of U.S. President Donald Trump's comments on Russia's Middle East involvement during his Iran nuclear deal decertification speech last week.
In April, Lieberman met with Shoygu and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at a security conference in Moscow, where he told them that Israel would not allow Iran and Hezbollah to concentrate forces in the Syrian Golan Heights.