Syria to Top Agenda During Russian Defense Minister’s First Visit to Israel Next Month
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu will visit the Jewish state in October and meet with his Israeli counterpart Avigdor Lieberman, Russian and Israeli media outlets reported on Sunday.
According to the reports, the two are expected to discuss Russian-Israeli military coordination vis-à-vis Syria, Iran’s effort to establish a permanent presence in that war-torn country and the Tehran regime’s attempts to transfer advanced weaponry to Hezbollah via Damascus.
This will be Shoigu’s first trip to Israel since becoming defense minister in 2012.
Last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flew to Sochi for a sit-down with Russian President Vladimir Putin. At the meeting, Netanyahu stated, “Iran is increasing its efforts to establish its military foothold in Syria. That is dangerous for Israel, the Middle East and, I believe, the whole world. Iran is already in advanced stages of taking over Iraq and Yemen, and in effect it also controls Lebanon.”
“We are all defeating ISIS in a concerted international effort, and that is welcome,” the Israeli prime minister — who has met with Putin six times since Russia’s military intervention in Syria began two years ago — continued. “What is not welcome is Iran moving in everywhere ISIS moves out. We do not forget for one minute that Iran continues to threaten Israel’s destruction every day; it is arming terrorist organizations and is itself instigating terrorism; and it is developing intercontinental missiles with the goal of arming them with nuclear warheads.”
“For all these reasons, Israel continues to oppose Iran’s entrenchment in Syria,” Netanyahu concluded. “We will defend ourselves in any way against this threat and any threat.”
Lieberman visited Moscow in April and met with top Russian officials, including Shoigu.