Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in Russia today and publicly called out the Kremlin’s arms sales to enemies of Israel while appearing with President Vladimir Putin.
Putin’s remarks at the start of the meeting between the two leaders were brief: wishing the prime minister happy Yom Kippur.
But Bibi got straight for the point after sharing his own pleasantries.
“Israel and Russia share a common interest to ensure stability in the Middle East. And I am here because of the security situation which is becoming ever more complex on our northern border,” Netanyahu said. “As you know, in recent years, and particularly in recent months, Iran and Syria have been arming the extremist Islamic terrorist organization Hezbollah with advanced weapons, aimed at us, and over the years thousands of rockets and missiles have been fired against our cities.”
“At the same time, Iran, under the auspices of the Syrian army, is attempting to build a second terrorist front against us from the Golan Heights.”
Netanyahu, who was last in Moscow in November 2013, stressed that it’s the policy of Israel “to prevent these weapons transfers, and to prevent the creation of a terrorist front and attacks on us from the Golan Heights.”
The meeting came as Russia sold an anti-aircraft system to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad that will be operated in Syria by Russian troops. Meanwhile, Russia is supplying Iran with S-300 surface-to-air missiles.
“Under these circumstances, I thought it was very important that I come here, also to clarify our policies, and to make sure that there is no misunderstanding between our forces,” Netanyahu continued. “And I must say something else, both from a personal standpoint and from a national one – in all of the relations between us, whether I agreed and also when we differed, our discourse has always been conducted with mutual respect and openness. I am certain that it will be this time as well.”
“And so it will be, prime minister,” Putin replied.
“Let there be no doubt about this: We have never forgotten that in the State of Israel live very many emigres from the former USSR. This has a special effect on our bilateral relations. All of Russia’s actions in the region will always be very responsible,” the Russian president added.
“We are aware of the shelling against Israel and we condemn all such shelling. I know that these shellings are carried out by internal elements,” he said. “In regard to Syria, we know that the Syrian army is in a situation such that it is incapable of opening a new front. Our main goal is to defend the Syrian state. However, I understand your concern and I am very pleased that you have come here to discuss all issues in detail.”
The pre-meeting remarks were released by Netanyahu’s office.
Putin’s office, meanwhile, only said of the meeting: “Vladimir Putin met with Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu, who is in Russia on a working visit.”