MOSCOW (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Russia on Monday for talks focused on Syria, reaffirming Israel's opposition to Iran's growing military presence there and in neighboring Lebanon.
Before departure for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Netanyahu said that Iran is trying to turn Lebanon into "one giant missile site, a site for precision missiles against the state of Israel, which we will not tolerate."
"I will discuss with President Putin Iran's relentless efforts to establish a military presence in Syria, which we strongly oppose and are also taking action against," he added.
Israel's chief military spokesman, Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis, posted a rare op-ed on Sunday in several Arabic-language websites, warning Lebanon of Iran's entrenchment and saying Israel is "prepared for all the scenarios."
Russia and Iran have joined forces to back President Bashar Assad throughout the Syrian conflict. Russia has waged a military campaign in Syria since September 2015, helping Assad's forces score a series of victories and win back key ground.
At the same time, Russia has sought to maintain friendly ties with Israel and the two countries' militaries have established close communications to avoid collisions in Syria.
"I want to speak with you about our common efforts to promote security and stability in our region," Netanyahu said at the start of his talks with Putin. "Our talks, which we hold periodically, in my view, greatly contribute to achieving these goals and I am certain that they will do so now as well."
The two leaders jointly visited Moscow's Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center to see an exhibition about a 1943 uprising at the Nazis' Sobibor camp in occupied Poland. Netanyahu noted that the uprising was led by a Jewish Red Army officer and praised the heroism of the Red Army in defeating the Nazis.
Putin expressed his appreciation, saying that the Israeli attitude contrasts with the removal of monuments to Red Army heroes in some European nations.