Has Putin finally decided that he’s had enough of Netanyahu’s shenanigans, bombing middle eastern countries – especially Syria where Russia has military personnel and equipment – at whim? Judging from a recent article in the Jerusalem Post, which was itself sourced from a British-Arab news outlet called Independent Arabia, one might conclude that to be the case:
According to the report, Moscow has prevented three Israeli air strikes on three Syrian outposts recently, and even threatened that any jets attempting such a thing would be shot down, either by Russian jets or by the S-400 anti-aircraft missiles. The source cited in the report claims a similar situation has happened twice – and that during August, Moscow stopped an air strike on a Syrian outpost in Qasioun, where a S-300 missile battery is placed.
Moreover, it was claimed that another air strike was planned for a week later on a Syrian outpost in the Qunaitra area and a third one on a sensitive area in Latakia. This development is what pushed Netanyahu to have his quick visit in Russia to try and convince Putin to ignore Israel’s attacks in Syria. According to the Russian source, Putin let Netanyahu know that his country will not allow any damage to be done to the Syrian regime’s army, or any of the weapons being given to it, because giving such a permission would be seen as giving Israel leniency – something that contradicts Russia’s goal of assisting the Syrian regime.
According to this report, in the meeting between Netanyahu and the Russian president last Friday in Sochi, Netanyahu attempted an unsuccessful charm offensive to get Putin to relent on his drawing a line in the sand. Independent Arabia reported that Israel’s bombing of parts of Syria, Iraq and Lebanon (the latter country being the home base of Hezbollah) over the past weeks has reportedly made Russia look bad in the eyes of its allies in the fight against jihadists in Syria. Sources with direct knowledge of the meeting and previous communications between the two stated that Putin expressed his unhappiness particularly at Israel’s violation of Lebanon’s sovereignty: “Putin further stated that someone is cheating him in regards to Syria and Lebanon, and that he will not let it go without a response. According to him, Netanyahu was warned not to strike such targets in the future.”
Isn’t it great that a major world leader is finally trying to put a leash on Netanyahu? Well, not so fast says John Helmer, a free-lance journalist who has the most years of experience reporting from/about Russia of any other in the west. According to him, Independent Arabia is an “information operation” by the wealthy Russian business man Alexander Lebedev, co-owner of Novaya Gazeta and co-owner of the London Independent, working with Saudi Arabian interests.
Moreover, Helmer said that Putin had disagreements with his defense and foreign policy ministers on Israeli actions.
Putin kept Netanyahu waiting for several hours during which time the Isreali PM spoke to Defense Minister Shoigu and Foreign Minister Lavrov who expressed their displeasure at Israel’s recent bombing spree across three countries in the region, among other things. However, when Putin arrived on the scene, he proceeded to unconditionally endorse Netanyahu for re-election. Helmer reports:
Netanyahu’s flying visit to Sochi was an election stunt, according to most Israeli press reports . Had Putin wanted to send Netanyahu a clear message that he endorses the warnings against IDF attacks in Syria from the Russian General Staff, he would have refused the meeting. This has happened before, at the insistence of the General Staff and Shoigu; for more details, click here  and here .
This time there was a sharp debate  between Putin and the Stavka. Putin insisted on receiving the Israeli; the Stavka settled on a compromise – Putin would meet Netanyahu after Shoigu had delivered the Stavka message. General Valery Gerasimov, Chief of the General Staff, did not attend this time.
Helmer further explains pointedly that Lavrov and the Russian Foreign Ministry put out a public statement about the meeting with Netanyahu separate from Putin’s about 4 hours later:
“We put a special emphasis on the need – and in this regard, the Israelis fully agree with us – to respect Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in actual practice rather than only in word. In this sense, we upped the ante by urging assistance to the Syrian authorities and the Syrians at large in returning to peaceful life. It was stressed that the sanctions, which the US and the European countries had introduced against the legitimate government of Syria, were wholly counterproductive.”
Shoigu and Lavrov, whose ministry photograph shows him in the open air in Sochi, know perfectly well the Israelis do not “fully agree with us”. That’s an irony directed at Putin for announcing “we have absolutely identical positions.”
It’s understandable that Putin wants to try to maintain good relations with all parties in the region in order to be an arbiter for peace and stability. It is also understandable that Putin recognizes that Israel is home to many Russian Jews. However, I would have to side with Shoigu and Lavrov on this one.
Israel has been allowed to rampage around the Middle East for far too long, bombing other countries at will on whatever pretexts Netanyahu decides, and systematically making any 2-state resolution of the long-running Israeli-Palestinian issue non-viable due to continual Israeli settlements, with Netanyahu now promising annexations of the West Bank if re-elected. Israel has also been straight up murdering and gravely injuring Palestinian civilians in cold blood with snipers for months. How much more can the Palestinians be crapped on by the Israelis, with an international community that enables it? And Putin endorses the one doing the crapping. It’s hard to understand how a lawyer like Putin who has publicly called for adherence to international law and stability in numerous public fora in the past can keep supporting such a recalcitrant violator of international law and underminer of regional stability like Netanyahu.
If anyone else has some insight into Putin’s rationale here, feel free to offer it up in the comments section. I’m really failing to see it.
According to a new report by the European Council on Foreign Relations, reported on last week by Quartz, a majority of Europeans surveyed, including 60,000 people in 14 EU member states, said they favored a neutral stance in terms of Washington’s conflicts, including with Russia and China. The authors of the report attributed the shift in European opinion to the Trump administration’s behavior leading to distrust in the trans-Atlantic relationship and a desire for more independence.
Consortium News just posted their 9th episode of CN Live in which Joe Lauria and Elizabeth Vos interview journalists and analysts on the top issues in their news headlines. This episode provides comprehensive coverage of Russia and U.S.-Russia relations and includes interviews with former CIA analyst specializing in Russia George Bebbe, retired CIA analyst/Russia expert Ray McGovern, journalist Patrick Lawrence, retired weapons expert Scott Ritter, and Moscow-based analyst Mark Sleboda.