Netanyahu to Putin: Iran Is Greatest Threat to Stability and Security

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R), Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and members of the delegations attend a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday. (Reuters/Maxim Shemetov)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told Russian President Vladimir Putin at their meeting in Moscow on Wednesday that relations between their two countries have “prevented friction between our armies.”

“The greatest threat to stability and security in the region comes from Iran, and we are determined to continue our aggressive activity against Iran and its attempts to establish itself in Syria,” Netanyahu told Putin.

Putin said at the start of the talks that “it’s very important to discuss the situation in the region and security issues.” Netanyahu invited the Russian leader to visit Israel.

At the meeting, Netanyahu highlighted the dangers of Iran’s military entrenchment in Syria, which Israel views as a severe threat to its security.

This is the first official meeting between the two leaders since Syria downed a Russian plane right after an Israeli strike in the area.

In September, while responding to an Israeli airstrike, Syrian missile defense systems shot down a Russian plane carrying 15 Russian soldiers. Moscow blamed Israel for the incident, claiming that they were not briefed in time about the planned strike. There have been tensions between the countries since the incident.

Iran’s military build-up in Syria remains a red line for Israel. The Israeli Air Force has carried out thousands of attacks to thwart the Iranian entrenchment in the war-torn country.

Iran uses its positions in Syria to transfer weapons and infrastructure to its terror proxy in Lebanon, Hezbollah, while attempting to establish another military front against Israel from the Syrian Golan Heights.

Moscow has played a delicate diplomatic game of maintaining friendly ties with both Israel and Iran. Last summer, Moscow struck a deal with Tehran to keep its fighters away from the Golan Heights to accommodate Israeli concerns about the Iranian presence in Syria.