Netanyahu to Visit Putin, Discuss S-300 Sale

Prime Minister will visit Russia next week to try and shoot down sale of advanced missiles to Syria.

Gil Ronen,

Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will visit Russia for talks with President Vladimir Putin, officials said Saturday, amid concerns Moscow may be about to deliver advanced missiles to Syria.

Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed the visit to AFP, but declined to give details. He told the Russian Interfax news agency that the visit was being planned for next week.

The state-run RIA Novosti news agency, citing a diplomatic source, also said Netanyahu expected to call on Putin at his Black Sea residence in Sochi early next week.

"The visit is currently at the stage of active preparations," the source was quoted as saying.

Israeli officials told AFP on condition of anonymity that the two leaders would meet "soon" but did not elaborate.

"Netanyahu and Putin will discuss the Russian arms sales to Syria, in particular the sale of advanced S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems," radical left-wing Haaretz newspaper reported Friday, adding that Netanyahu would also seek to raise the Iranian nuclear issue.

Israel is believed to have carried out two air strikes near Damascus last week. A senior Israeli source said the strikes were aimed at preventing the transfer of sophisticated weapons to Hizbullah.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that Israel had provided information to Washington about the imminent sale to Syria of Russian S-300 missile batteries, which it has repeatedly warned would be a "game changer" because of the strategic advantage it would give Syria against Israeli jets.

US Secretary of State John Kerry has also warned that any such sale would be "potentially destabilizing" for the region.

Russia however refuses to rule out supplying weapons to Syria, saying it has to honor existing contracts.