Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is set to travel to Moscow this coming Friday for his first meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin since Bennett took office earlier this year.
During the meeting, Bennett is expected to ask Putin to urge Tehran to pull back its forces in Syria from Israel’s northern border, Israel Hayom reported Monday morning.
In addition, Bennett is reportedly planning to ask Putin to ensure Israel’s freedom of action in the region.
Housing and Construction Minister Ze’ev Elkin (New Hope) is slated to join Bennett for the trip to Russia. An immigrant from the Soviet Union, Elkin in the past served as a translator for then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during meetings with Putin.
In addition to securing Russian backing to prevent Iran from establishing itself militarily on Israel’s northern border, this week’s meeting will also serve as Bennett’s first opportunity to establish a rapport with Putin – a step viewed as being key to maintaining Israel’s close ties to Russia with regards to Syria.
Israel has long benefitted from the rift between Moscow and Tehran regarding policy in Syria, with Russia disagreeing with Iran’s use of resources in the country for its campaign against Israel, while Russia remains focused on combatting ISIS and other Islamic terrorists challenging the Assad regime.
Bennett is also expected to speak with Putin about the acceleration of Iran’s nuclear program, and efforts by the Biden administration to negotiate Iran’s return to the 2015 nuclear deal.