Lapid to meet Russian foreign minister in Moscow this week

Announcement of post-Rosh Hashanah meeting follows reports of tensions in Israel-Russia relationship over policies toward Syria

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid meets with 26 EU foreign ministers in Brussels, July 12, 2021. (European Union)
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid meets with 26 EU foreign ministers in Brussels, July 12, 2021. (European Union)

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid will fly to Moscow to meet with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov after the Rosh Hashanah festival ends on Wednesday evening, his office announced Sunday.

Lapid will fly back to Israel Thursday, according to a statement from his office, which did not say what the two were set to discuss.

The meeting will be Lapid’s first with Lavrov since becoming foreign minister in June.

Sunday’s announcement comes following recent reports of tensions in the Israel-Russia relationship over policies toward Syria.

Israel’s freedom of action in Syria was seriously curtailed after Russia provided advanced S-300 air defense batteries to President Bashar Assad’s forces following a 2018 incident in which the Syrian army, aiming at Israeli jets, knocked a Russian plane out of the sky instead, killing all 15 people on board.

Israel has carried out hundreds of airstrikes inside Syria in the course of the country’s civil war, targeting what it says are suspected arms shipments believed to be bound for Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group, which is fighting alongside Syrian government forces. It rarely acknowledges or discusses such operations.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at a joint news conference with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem in Moscow, Russia, August 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Russia has waged a military campaign in Syria since 2015, helping Assad’s government reclaim control over most of the country after a devastating civil war. Moscow also has helped modernize Syria’s military arsenals and train its personnel.

Early Friday, the Israeli Air Force struck and destroyed a Syrian missile battery that had launched a missile that exploded near central Israel.

Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.

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