President Vladimir Putin’s invitation to Prime Minister Binyamin to sit with him on the saluting stand of the Victory March in Moscow was a signal honor for Netanyahu and Israel. The march takes place on Wednesday, May 10 and marks the 73rd anniversary of Russia’s defeat of Nazi Germany. This annual parade is the Moscow’s primary showcase for the latest Russian weapons systems and its military might. Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has commented of late that if Russian weaponry deployed in Syria is used against the Israeli army, the IDF won’t hesitate to strike back. He was referring to the advanced S-400 and S-300 air defense systems that Russia has deployed in Syria. Putin appears to calculate that Netanyahu will be so impressed by Russia’s awesome military prowess when it unfolds before him that he will go home and advise Lieberman to talk less.
This Kremlin tactic is not new. Often Russian leaders invite guests of honor to view a stunning Russian display of strength before taking them aside for a talking-to about what is expected of them. In the case of Netanyahu, Putin will sit him down in his Kremlin office to discuss the fate of the nuclear deal with Iran and the situation in Syria. Putin has timed his invitation with careful aforethought. It takes place three days before the May 12 deadline for President Donald Trump to re-certify, or back out of, the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and five days before the May 14 dedication of the newly-relocated US embassy in Jerusalem. Trump may decide to attend this event.
The Russian president has prepared six messages for conveying directly to Netanyahu on Wednesday:
- Moscow has concluded that a military clash between Israel and Iran is inevitable.
- Stop muscle-flexing against Russian forces in Syria, he will warn. If you mess with us, it will boomerang against you.
- Consider this: If Donald Trump takes the United States out of the nuclear deal with Iran, which Netanyahu is strongly urging him to do, then no one is left in the Middle East capable of engaging Tehran for passing messages between Jerusalem and Tehran.
- This sort of conduit is vital, especially in the event of the outbreak of Israeli-Iranian hostilities in Syria, as widely predicted.
- It is even more important to have a party available with access to both sides to carry forward discussions for a cessation of hostilities between the belligerents.
- Putin asked Netanyahu for an unambiguous promise that, if warfare erupts with Iran, Israel forces will not harm a single Russian soldier or weapons system.