Russian President Vladimir Putin landed in Israel on Monday afternoon, for a two-day visit during which he was scheduled to meet with key members of Israel’s leadership.
During the trip, Putin’s first since 2005, the Russian president was expected to attend the unveiling of a memorial honoring members of the Red Army who were killed fighting Nazi Germany, and have a formal dinner and work session with President Shimon Peres before moving on to the Palestinian Authority and Jordan, where he would meet with PA President Mahmoud Abbas and King Abdullah.
Officials said talks will likely focus on Iran’s nuclear program and the ongoing violence in Syria. Russia is a close ally of both countries and — along with China — has halted various attempts to tighten sanctions against either regime.
Israel would be happy to see Russia take a harsher stance on the Iranian issue, but many analysts doubt Jerusalem’s request would be enough to change a long-term policy.
“The message they [the Russians] will receive is that Israel can’t tolerate a nuclear Iran. Of course we prefer a diplomatic solution, but we will use all means to protect Israel’s survival,” said Yacov Livne, head of the Russia desk at the Israeli Foreign Ministry.
On Friday Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned against issuing an ultimatum to Iran. Lavrov said recent talks between Tehran and the six world powers were useful, and that they must continue without delays or ultimatums. Western analysts said, however, that the talks had made no headway and accused Iran of bogging down the proceedings with technical details and refusing to address core issues.