Photo Credit: Amos Ben-Gershom / GPO
Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu say their 'goodbyes' in Sochi, Sept. 12 2019.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in a meeting Thursday evening for his ongoing commitment to their “mutual rational policy” and the “direct connection” between them.

The two men met at Bocharov Ruchey, the presidential summer residence, located in the Tsentralny city district of Sochi.

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“I very much appreciate your statement that the security of Israel is important to you. This finds expression in the meetings that we have and in the important meeting I just held with Defense Minister Shoigu,” Netanyahu said.

“The security coordination between us is always important but it is especially important at this time because last month saw a very serious upsurge in the number of attempts by Iran to attack Israel from Syrian territory, and also to place precision missiles there against us.

“From our point of view, this is an intolerable threat and we are taking action; therefore, we must also ensure that the coordination between us prevents friction.”

The prime minister likewise told Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu that Israel is stepping up its attacks against Iranian-backed forces, because the Islamic Republic has “increased its attempts to attack Israel from Syrian territory and so there is a need to step up our defense cooperation,” he said, according to Hebrew-language media reports.

Putin appeared careful this time, however, to create some distance in his relationship with the Israeli prime minister. He told reporters, “Russia cares a lot about who will be elected to the Knesset and I hope that whoever enters the Knesset will continue bilateral ties between the countries, and will push our relationship forward.”

The Russian leader confirmed his intention to visit Israel in January to dedicate a memorial for the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Netanyahu had also discussed a plan for Putin to dedicate a memorial to the heroes of the siege of Leningrad; Putin said he might do that as well.

“We will never forget the great contribution of the Russian army and people in defeating Nazi Germany,” Netanyahu said before leaving.

This was the 13th meeting between the two men in recent years, during which they have discussed many agreements on security, economic issues, tourism, technology and other issues.

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