Russia and Israel agree to ‘more honest’ exchange of information on Syria - Kremlin

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a meeting at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence. © Michael Klimentyev
Russia’s president and Israeli’s PM have agreed to “establish a channel for information exchange” with regard to the current situation in war-torn Syria, a Kremlin spokesman said on Tuesday, commenting on the Netanyahu’s visit to Moscow.

The two leaders discussed the need for a “more honest information exchange and coordination between Russia and Israel” in their actions in Syria, Vladimir Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov said, adding that the agreement had been prompted by the worsening situation there.

Based on the partnership relations between Russia and Israel it has been considered appropriate to establish channels of informational exchange on such a sensitive issue,” Peskov told journalists, adding that this coordination has become necessary because of the difficult situation in the region, and has nothing to do with Russian military advisers in Syria.

The Kremlin’s comments came after Benjamin Netanyahu said that his meeting with Putin on Monday was intended to “prevent misunderstandings between IDF (Israel Defense Forces) units and Russian forces” in Syria. Briefing Israeli reporters after the talks, Netanyahu said that they had “agreed on a mechanism” to ensure that such “misunderstandings” do not happen, without elaborating further.

Following the statements, some anonymous sources told the Israeli press that the goal of such coordination was to avoid situations in Syria in which the Russian and Israeli military could find themselves accidentally trading fire. The coordination will apply to “air, naval and electromagnetic fields,” RIA Novosti reported citing a source in Israeli military.

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Neither country is directly involved in the Syrian conflict. Moscow has been supplying Syria with arms on a regular basis for years under previous contracts, and Israel has kept its distance from the war, with the exception of several reportedly “preventive airstrikes.”