Putin hails ‘unique’ ties with Israel on Bennett’s first Russia trip

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Putin hails ‘unique’ ties with Israel on Bennett’s first Russia trip

There are one million Russian speakers living in Israel today, bringing the two countries closer together than ever before

Michael Daventry is foreign editor of Jewish News

Vladimir Putin hailed Russia’s “unique” ties with Israel as he met Naftali Bennett in the Black Sea resort of Sochi during his first visit as prime minister.

The Russian president said his country’s ties with Israel were based on “a very deep connection between our peoples.”

Bennett responded by pointing out the close links forged between Russia and Israel’s one million Russian speakers during Putin’s presidency.

Around 15 percent of Israelis are made up of those who left the Soviet Union or their descendants, making Israel home to the largest Russian-speaking minority outside of the former Eastern bloc.

“I can tell you on behalf of the citizens of Israel that we consider you a true friend of the Jewish people,” Bennett said.

The two leaders would discuss the Syrian civil war and efforts to halt Iran’s nuclear programme, the Israeli prime minister added.

Russia has been intimately involved in Syria since 2015, when Putin first sent military aid to bolster the government of Bashar al-Assad.

Israel says Iran and Iranian-backed forces have become entrenched both in Syria and on the northern Israeli border with Lebanon, where they provided weapons and supplies for Hezbollah.


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