(JNS.org) Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu is slated to visit Israel in October to meet with his Israeli counterpart, Avigdor Lieberman, for discussions on security coordination in Syria.
Shoigu’s trip to Israel will be his first since becoming Russia’s defense minister in 2012. Lieberman visited Russia in April and met with high-level officials, including Shoigu.
The meeting between the defense ministers is expected to address similar issues raised by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his late-August meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi. Netanyahu and Putin discussed Iran’s “accelerated” presence in Syria and the transfer of weapons to the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah.
Since becoming actively involved in the Syrian Civil War in 2015, Russia has worked closely with Iran in support of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Russia has also reportedly worked behind the scenes to protect Hezbollah at the United Nations.
Israel, meanwhile, has allegedly conducted several missile strikes targeting Iranian-sponsored weapons convoys heading to Hezbollah.
Netanyahu said in July that a cease-fire agreement in southern Syria, brokered by the U.S. and Russia at the G20 Summit in Germany, perpetuates the presence of Iranian forces near Israel. America and Russia responded to Netanyahu’s criticism by saying Israel’s interests would be taken into account in the war-torn state.
Putin and Netanyahu have held six bilateral meetings during the past two years to discuss regional issues, and to help maintain a protocol that prevents friction between their militaries in Syria.