PM: Deepening ties with Moscow important for Israel’s security
Netanyahu heads to Russia to mark 25 years of diplomatic ties
The deepening ties between Israel and Russia are important for the country’s security, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday as he addressed a Jerusalem Day ceremony on the eve of his departure to Moscow.
On Tuesday he will hold his fourth face-to-face meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in less than a year to strengthen military cooperation between the two countries, and to celebrate 25 years of diplomatic relations. The parley will be his third in or near Moscow. The two also met in Paris in November.
On the holiday marking the unification of Jerusalem during the 1967 Six Day War, Netanyahu could not help but reflect on what an enormous difference time makes in the relationships between nations.
In 1967, he said, the Arab armies surrounding Israel and bent on destroying it were supported by the Soviet Union.
Russia today is a world power, and its relation to Israel only grow stronger and deeper, Netanyahu.
These ties are important “for our national security and prevented unnecessary violence along our borders,” he continued.
Earlier a statement from the prime minister’s office said that the two leaders would discuss terrorism, the ongoing Syrian civil war, and the stalled peace
process to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Russia has an active military presence in the region, particularly in Syria, and it is also an arms supplier to Iran.
It is also one of five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.
Israel has worked to strengthen its ties with Moscow, alongside those of its chief ally, the United States whose President Barack Obama, Netanyahu has met only once in the last year.
It has worked to coordinate its military air activity in the region with Russia, so that the two militaries do not interfere one with the other in the Syrian theater.
Coordination between the IAF and the Russian air force continues to be good, due to the need by both countries to
avoid inadvertent incidents in the crowded skies over and around Syria. Coordination between the defense establishments of Jerusalem and Moscow has been positive and fruitful, with hotlines in place that have been used to keep Russian and Israeli air platforms out of each other’s way.
Russia continues to provide air support to the Assad regime, and its Hezbollah and Iranian backers on the ground. Although Moscow has reduced the number of fighter jets deployed in Syrian air bases on the Mediterranean coast, it still keeps its air force active in the war torn country. Russian jets bombed rebel positions in Aleppo over the weekend.
Despite the fact that Moscow is working closely with the Tehran-led axis, which includes
Israel’s most bitter, formidable enemy in the region – Hezbollah – Russia’s presence has proven to be a moderating, restraining influence on Hezbollah’s conduct vis-a-vis Israel.
Nevertheless, Russia is completing the sale of the advanced S-300 advanced surface to air missile defense system to Iran, which will significantly upgrade the regime’s ability to defend its nuclear sites against any attack.
The arrival of the F-35 jets later this year from the US will go a long way to assisting Israel in building up capabilities to overcome such systems, as well as the advance air defense systems that Hezbollah has managed to smuggle into Lebanon from Syria.
Netanyahu travels to Moscow with his wife Sara, Agriculture
Minster Uri Ariel and Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin, who immigrated to Israel from the former Soviet Union in 1990.
In honor of the 25th anniversary, Putin has signed a presidential degree to return to Israel a tank which has been in a Moscow armory museum that was used in the 1982 battle of Sultan Yacoub, from which three IDF soldiers are still listed as missing in action.
During the visit the Israeli delegation will look to increased cooperation with Russia with regard to the economy, trade and culture.
During the meeting, the two countries will sign a pension agreement to award benefits to emigrants from the former Soviet Union who worked in Russia prior to 1992. The signatures will not fully end the protracted bureaucratic process, and pension payment for Russian retirees in Israel are not likely to begin before 2017.
Jerusalem and Moscow will also sign an agricultural memorandum of understanding with regard to dairy farming.
Netanyahu will inaugurate an interactive experiential exhibit on Israeli technology.
He will also meet with Jewish communal leaders, including Russia’s Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar, Moscow’s Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt and Russian Jewish Congress President Yuri Kanner.
Separately, while Netanyahu is in Russia, US Ambassador Daniel Shapiro will meet with the Bayit Yehudi faction to discuss US-Israel ties, including issues relating to the ongoing negotiations of a 10-year Memorandum of Understanding that would provide Israel with military aid.
PRIME MINISTER Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with Russian President Vladimir Putin during their meeting at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence near Moscow last September.