Days after being ousted from his post as prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a message to Russian President Vladimir Putin promising him a speedy return, a source close to Netanyahu and a European diplomat told me.
Why is this important: Netanyahu and Putin had a close relationship that grew even stronger after Russia began military involvement in Syria in 2015. Netanyahu flaunted this relationship during election campaigns – meeting with Putin days before the 2019 vote and even presenting a photo of the two together. on a billboard to underline his stature as a statesman.
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In the wings: Shortly after Naftali Bennett was sworn in as prime minister on June 13, Russian Ambassador to Israel Anatoly Viktorov visited Netanyahu with a personal letter from Putin outlining their time of collaboration.
Netanyahu read the letter and told the Russian ambassador: “Tell President Putin that I will be back soon,” the sources say.
Front flash: Bennett will meet with Putin next Friday in Sochi, the Kremlin said. It will be their first meeting and will focus on Iran and Syria, according to Israeli officials.
What they say : “We try not to compare Mr. Netanyahu to the current prime minister because Netanyahu has worked with President Putin for many years and they know each other very well and it takes time to develop new personal relationships,” told i24News Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
The state of play: Netanyahu has been unable to destabilize the Bennett government, which appears to be on track to pass a budget in early November and buy itself another 18 months in power.
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