Netanyahu to Meet With Putin in Moscow, Discuss Russian Arms Sales to Syria

Senior Israeli official says Netanyahu will visit Russia sometime in the next two weeks, and will also raise the issue of Iran's nuclear program.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Russia this week and ask him not to supply advanced S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems to Syria, a senior Israeli official said on Friday.

Netanyahu, who was invited to Russia on March 20, is also expected to discuss the Syrian civil war with Putin. Netanyahu also seeks to discuss the Iranian nuclear program with the Russian leader, an Israeli official said.

The meeting will probably take place in the resort town of Sochi on the Black Sea’s northeast coast. Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the two leaders’ aides are working out the precise timing.

Earlier on Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow had no new plans to sell an advanced air defense system to the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad, but left open the possibility that it could ship such systems to Damascus under an existing contract.

The Wall Street Journal has reported that Israel told the United States about an imminent Russian deal to sell S-300 missile systems that would significantly boost Syria’s ability to stave off intervention in the civil war.

Senior Israeli officials said Netanyahu had brought up the missile issue in a telephone conversation with Putin, and in another conversation that happened Wednesday with U.S. President Barack Obama.

The Journal said the deal had been signed in 2010 and would be carried out in the next three months.

Syria had already made the first payment of the $900 million deal to Russia and would receive six launchers and around 144 missiles, it said.

“Russia is not planning to sell,” Lavrov said when asked about the reports during a visit to Warsaw.

“Russia already sold them a long time ago. It has signed the contracts and is completing deliveries, in line with the agreed contracts, of equipment which is anti-aircraft technology.”

The question referred to S-300 systems, but Lavrov did not specify whether the systems being delivered were S-300s or others.