Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman is to visit Moscow next week to attend the Moscow Conference on International Security which will focus on “critical problems of global and regional security,” his office said Wednesday.
On the trip he is also slated to meet with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
The Soviet-born Liberman — who moved to Israel from Moldova in 1978 — has become a key player in Israel’s relations with Moscow as Israel seeks to navigate the complex array of actors involved in Syria’s six-year-old civil war.
In February he spoke by phone with Lavrov about the ongoing efforts to end the Syrian civil war and about moribund peace efforts with the Palestinians.
The two “discussed possibilities for restarting the diplomatic process between Israel and the Palestinians,” a statement from Israel’s Defense Ministry read.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Moscow in March, meeting with President Vladimir Putin. The two discussed Russia’s involvement in the Syrian civil war, with the Israeli leader urging the Kremlin not to allow Iran, Russia’s ally in supporting Syrian strongman Bashar Assad, a permanent foothold in the country.
Netanyahu and Putin also discussed the ongoing military coordination between the two countries to ensure their forces don’t clash over Syria’s skies.
However, things may be more complicated now for Liberman after Netanyahu clearly sided with US President Donald Trump and the US bombing of a Syrian airbase earlier this month.
Russia was furious at the missile attack and suspended its “deconfliction” agreement with the United States – one under which the two nations give each other prior notice of any military action, particularly from the air, so there’s no risk of an inadvertent clash.
Earlier Putin had phoned Netanyahu and warned him of taking sides in the Syrian conflict.