President Isaac Herzog and Russian President Vladimir Putin extended invitations to one another to visit each other’s countries during a Friday phone call.
Herzog wished Putin and the Russian people a Happy New Year and a Happy Novy God, according to the Israeli readout, which said the two lauded their countries’ close and growing ties over the past 30 years.
“Both presidents emphasized the broad and growing cooperation in various fields, especially in the fields of the economy, science and agriculture,” Herzog’s office said.
Herzog also thanked Putin “for his statements supporting the security of the State of Israel and its citizens,” according to the Israeli readout.
Putin thanked Herzog for the invitation to visit Israel to participate in the inauguration of the Chaim Herzog Museum of the Jewish Soldier in World War II. The museum is named after the Israeli president’s late father and will open next year.
The readout said Putin invited Herzog to visit Russia “soon.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was supposed to visit the region earlier this month but canceled several days ahead of time. Israeli officials who spoke to The Times of Israel at the time did not know why Lavrov canceled the trip, pointing instead to Russian reports that cited “personal reasons.” A new date has yet to be announced.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett visited Russia in October, holding several meetings with Putin and other senior Russian officials. It was his first visit to the country as premier.
Putin urged the West on Thursday to “immediately” meet Russia’s demand for security guarantees precluding NATO’s expansion to Ukraine and the deployment of the military alliance’s weapons there.
Speaking during a marathon annual news conference, the Russian leader welcomed talks with the US that are set to start in Geneva next month but sternly warned that Moscow expects the discussion to produce quick results.
“We have clearly and precisely let them know that any further NATO expansion eastward is unacceptable,” Putin said.
Moscow presented its demand amid soaring tensions over a Russian troop buildup near Ukraine that has stoked fears of a possible invasion. US President Joe Biden warned Putin in a conference call earlier this month that Russia will face “severe consequences” if it attacks Ukraine.