Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived the Russian city of Sochi for a meeting with President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday. Putin and Netanyahu discussed the Syrian crisis and the Israeli prime minister once again confirmed a harsh stance of Tel Aviv against the growing Shia influence in the war torn country. Netanyahu also blamed Iran for alleged attempts to “Lebanonize” Syria.
The visit of the Israeli prime minister to Russia took place amid the collapse of the ISIS defense in central Syria. ISIS terrorists had been encircled in two pockets north of the Homs-Palmyra highway and was rapidly loosing ground to the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies.
Meanwhile, behind the scene, Russia and the US have been conducting negotiations in order to reach a final settlement agreement over the conflict in Syria.
Tel Aviv is concerned that the final Syrian settlement with a notable influence of Shia forces will threat the Israeli security. In this situation, Israel has increased its efforts in order to avoid this.
Most likely, during the meeting, Netanyahu suggested Putin to use the Israeli influence on US President Donald Trump and the Congress to ease the key economic sanctions imposed on Rusia. In turn, Tel Aviv seeks to particiapte in the final settlement agreement as a negotiating side. Isael sees this as a tool to defend its interests in Syria.
By now it seems that Netanyahu has failed to achieve these goals during the meeting with Putin.
- Moscow has strong positions in Syria and is not interested in inviting more participants in the current format of the negotiations;
- Russia sees Iran as an important ally in the region;
- Even if we suppose that Putin is ready to shape the Russian point of view on the Iranian role in the conflict, it’s hard to expect that Moscow will be able to make some significant steps considering the current situation. Furthermore, Russia may face some difficulties on the ground in this case.