Netanyahu to Meet Putin in Moscow for First Time Since Russian Plane Downed

Meeting is meant to settle rising tensions after an Israeli airstrike in Syria destroyed Russian military infrastructure

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, February 2, 2019.
Alexei Nikolsky,AP

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on February 21 in Moscow following brief talks that took place at the Paris Peace Forum in November, as well as a series of phone calls between the two leaders.

In the meeting, the two will discuss regional affairs, the situation in Syria and the strengthening of the security coordination between Israel and Syria's armies.

>> Read more: In its battle against Iran, Israel is dependent on Russia's plans for Syria ■ How Russia hid death toll from disastrous Syria battle until after Putin's reelection

Netanyahu announced the upcoming meeting during a joint speech with Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen, who is currently visiting Israel.

The meeting comes after tensions between the two countries rose in recent weeks following Israeli airstrikes on Damascus Airport last month. Twenty-one people were killed in the extensive strike, according to a war watchdog. At least 12 of them were members of Iran's Revolutionary Guards.

The airstrike destroyed Russian military infrastrucure, including SA2, SA3, SA17 air-defense systems, an SA22 TELAR, and a J27 Radar. 

After the strike, Moscow warned against 'arbitrary' airstrikes in Syria. "We should never allow Syria, which has suffered years of armed conflict, to be turned into an arena where geopolitical scores are settled," added Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.

Last week, Israel was visited by special envoy for Syria Alexander Lavrentiev and Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin. Discussions included ways to improve security coordination between Russian and Israeli forces to prevent them from clashing in Syria’s airspace, as happened in the downing of a Russian aircraft in Septmeber.