Israel, Russia Keep Syrian Conflict From Damaging Closer Ties

Israel, Russia Keep Syrian Conflict From Damaging Closer Ties
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the COP21 U.N. climate talks, Paris, France, Nov. 30, 2015 (Mikhail Klimentyev, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP).

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin has canceled a March trip to Australia in order to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow instead. In an email interview, Michael Koplow, a policy director at the Israel Policy Forum, discussed Israel-Russia relations and the impact of the Syrian conflict.

WPR: What has been the recent trajectory of Israel-Russia political, economic and security ties?

Michael Koplow: The recent trajectory of Israel-Russia ties has been on the upswing. Vladimir Putin was the first Russian president to visit Israel, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has cultivated ties with Russia for a number of reasons. Israel has a large Russian diaspora that makes up 10-12 percent of Israel’s population, and their deep bond to their former country makes cultivating closer ties with Russia politically expedient for Israeli politicians. In addition, Israel and Russia have both taken advantage of a perceived American withdrawal from the Middle East to forge closer ties, with Israel seeking to hedge its bets with another outside power and Russia seeking to poke the U.S. in the eye by gaining influence with one of its core regional allies. This has manifested itself in the political sphere, with Netanyahu and former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman—himself a Soviet-era immigrant—having made heralded diplomatic trips to Moscow. Israel has also remained silent on issues that are important to Russia, such as the annexation of Crimea.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.

More World Politics Review