Netanyahu and Putin Affirm Commitment to Closer Ties in Phone Call

The phone call, the sixth between the leaders in the past year, took place following a dramatic increase in Russian forces in Syria.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu following their talks in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, June 7, 2016.
Maxim Shipenkov/Pool via AP

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin held a phone call Friday evening. According to the Kremlin, the two affirmed the continued strengthening of relations between Israel and Russia on occasion of the 25th anniversary of the establishing of relations between the two countries on October 18, 1991.

The phone call, the sixth between the leaders in the past year, took place following a dramatic increase in Russian forces in Syria. Two weeks ago, Russia deployed its advanced anti-aircraft S-300 system in their base in Tartus, an issue that came up in talks between the Israeli Defense Forces and the Russian military in the last few days. In addition, Russia is sending an aircraft carrier and several warships into the region.

A few days ago, the Russian Embassy in Tel Aviv announced that Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev will be visiting Israel on November 10. According to the announcement Medvedev’s visit will focus on bolstering bilateral economic cooperation.

The embassy statement noted that diplomatic dialogue between the two countries had intensified this year, as reflected in a series of meetings between senior officials: President Reuven Rivlin’s visit to Moscow and two visits to the Russian capital by Netanyahu.

The main reason why Israeli-Russian relations have grown closer over the last year is the entry of Russian forces into Syria’s civil war. The two countries established a mechanism for military coordination to prevent incidents between their air forces and navies, and talks on this issue take place at the highest levels.

In June, Netanyahu visited Moscow, where he and Putin celebrated the 25th anniversary of the restoration of relations at a festive concert in the Bolshoi Theater.