Putin opposes Netanyahu’s annexation plans as the two meet in Sochi

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin Thursday in Sochi, Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet in Sochi, Russia, to discuss national and international matters. Photo by Jim Hollander/

This marks Netanyahu’s third trip to Russia this year and it comes five days before Israel’s Knesset election on Sept. 17.

Topics up for discussion include the situation in Syria, organizing a joint meeting with Israel, Russia and the United States and improving military cooperation, Netanyahu’s office said.

The Israeli delegation includes the national security council leader and the chief of general staff for the Israeli Defense Force.

The Kremlin’s press service said “issues of further development of the bilateral cooperation are planned to be discussed, while opinions are expected to be exchanged on the situation in the Middle East.”

But Putin won’t shy away from challenging Netanyahu’s controversial campaign promise to annex the Jordan Valley in the West Bank if he wins next week.

“The position of Moscow is unchanged — it’s against any annexations,” Tatyana Karasova of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Oriental Studies, told Al Jazeera. “Netanyahu needs to make it so that his extremist statements don’t hamper relations with Russia … he values those ties highly and considers them his merit.”

Moscow has already pointed out that the annexation plan spawned a “sharp negative reaction” from the Arab League. Moscow wants peace talks to resume between Israel and Palestinians. The Arab League has said the talks are off as long as Netanyahu promises to annex Palestinian land.

The timing of the visit isn’t a coincidence as meeting with a recognizable figure like Putin raises Netanyahu’s profile just before the election.

“Netanyahu wants to show [voters] that he’s a statesman who meets the leaders of the world” like Putin, Israeli journalist and columnist with Haaretz Gideon Levy said. “Netanyahu is now fighting for each vote because the picture is very even.”

ByNicholas Sakelaris