Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu arrived in Israel on Monday to meet with his Israeli counterpart, Avigdor Lieberman, for discussions on Iran and security coordination in Syria.
Shoigu’s visit to Israel is his first since becoming Russia’s defense minister in 2012. Lieberman visited Russia in April and met with high-level officials, including Shoigu.
The meeting between the defense ministers is expected to address similar issues raised by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his late August meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi. Netanyahu and Putin discussed Iran’s “accelerated” presence in Syria and the transfer of weapons to the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah.
Netanyahu and Putin have held six bilateral meetings during the past two years to discuss regional issues, and to help maintain a protocol that prevents friction between their militaries in Syria.
In July, Netanyahu said a cease-fire agreement in southern Syria, brokered by the US and Russia at the G20 Summit in Germany, perpetuated the presence of Iranian forces near Israel. America and Russia responded to Netanyahu’s criticism by saying Israel’s interests would be taken into account in the war-torn state.
Shoigu’s arrival in Israel came just hours after the Israeli military launched a strike against a Syrian army anti-aircraft battery Monday morning, after the battery opened fire on Israeli Air Force planes. IDF spokesman Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis said the Russian military was notified in real-time as the Israeli strike was launched and that the incident would be addressed directly with Shoigu.