On December 11th, a delegation of IDF officers will visit Moscow to hoold a meeting with the Russian side, the Israeli Defense Forces announced over Twitter on December 10th.
The Israeli delegation is to be led by the Head of the Operations Directorate, Major General Aharon Haliva and will brief the Russian side on Operation Northern Shield and other operational issues.
Following the conversation between the @IsraeliPM & Minister of Defense and @KremlinRussia_E, Vladimir Putin, senior IDF officers led by the Head of the Operations Directorate, Maj. Gen. Aharon Haliva, will go to #Moscow tomorrow.
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) December 10, 2018
Following a phone conversation on December 8th, with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Israeli Prime Minister, as well as Health, Foreign and Defense Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the countries’ two militaries may meet in the following days to discuss cooperation in Syria.
“I talked to Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday. We agreed that the delegations of Russian and Israeli armies on coordination on Syria will meet as soon as possible. I hope this will be in the coming days, most likely in Moscow. And our meeting with President Putin will be held later,” Netanyahu said, according to his press service.
“This [phone conversation] was a follow-up to the talks in Paris, which were very crucial for ensuring the continuing cooperation, which the Russian Army and the Israeli Defense Forces have maintained for several years,” Netanyahu further said. The “talks in Paris” were a brief meeting between the two leaders on November 11th, on the Centenary of the World War I Armistice.
Israel launched the Northern Shield operation near the border with Lebanon on December 4th to spot and destroy tunnels dug by Hezbollah militants into Israel’s territory. It also trained Engineering Corps specialists in Europe in 2017, in preparation of the operation.
The Russian President in a statement “stressed the importance of ensuring stability in the region in strict accordance with Resolution 1701 of the UN Security Council,” referring to the 2006 UN Security Council resolution calling for Hezbollah to withdraw from southern Lebanon following the Second Lebanon War.
On December 7th, the Israeli Intelligence and Transport Minister Israel Katz, said that IDF may have to go into southern Lebanon to deal with the tunnels.
Israel also said that it would continue fighting against Iran’s expanding influence in the Middle East and in Syria in particular.
The relations between Russia and Israel took a downturn when on September 17th a Russian IL-20 was downed by Syrian S-200 missile defense systems, which were targeting four Israeli F-16 fighter jets attacking facilities in Latakia.
Israel denied responsibility. Vladimir Putin initially said that the incident was the result of a “chain of tragic accidental circumstances.”
However, later Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said that the Israeli Air Force and those who made the decision to use the Il-20 aircraft as cover are solely to blame for its crash. Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Igor Konashenko also placed the entire responsibility for the downing of the Russian plane on Israel’s Air Forces and those who were behind the decision to use the Russian plane as a shield.
Following the incident, Russia supplied S-300 missile defense systems to Damascus in a move which Israel opposed. Moscow said the supply of the advanced anti-aircraft system was necessary in order to prevent further threats to Russian troops and to cool off “hot heads.”
Israel appears to be attempting to undertake steps to improve relations with Russia. However, in order to do so there will be a need for concessions, which Netanyahu’s, almost one-man, government may not be ready to provide.