Relations between the two were seriously strained following the accidental downing of a Russian spy plane in September after a reckless mid-air tactical maneuver by an Israeli jet led a Syrian S200 missile into its path, though President Putin made it clear that he didn't blame Israel for what happened after he famously attributed the event to what he described as a "chain of tragic circumstances".
In the months since and in spite of the flurry of fake news about their supposedly worsening ties, Russia and Israel have largely reconciled over what happened and are ready to take their relations with one another to the next level. President Putin's New Year's address to foreign leaders included the bold wish that "Russian-Israeli relations will be developing in a constructive manner as a partnership for the benefit of the peoples of both states and in the interest of strengthening peace, security and stability in the Middle East", which was followed up by the visit of a Russian military delegation to Israel and later Presidential Special Envoy for Syria Alexander Lavrentiev's meeting with the head of Mossad.
In the meantime, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov reaffirmed to CNN that Russia and Iran aren't "allies" in Syria and that his country "in no way underestimates the importance of measures that would ensure the very strong security of the State of Israel." This might explain why the so-called "deconfliction mechanism" has remained in use between Russia and Israel whenever the latter bombs suspected Iranian and Hezbollah units in Syria even though some Russian officials have reminded the world that Israel's actions are technically illegal in terms of international law.
The visit of Prime Minister Netanyahu, who's popularly known as Bibi, to Moscow next week will therefore be an event of monumental importance because it'll complete the process of reconciliation and herald the new regional realignment that President Putin wished for at the end of the year. That's not to say that Russia's envisaged Mideast-wide security partnership with Israel is aimed against any third party such as Iran like some might think, but just that it's nevertheless a game-changing development because it implies that Israel is relying more on Russia to ensure its security than on America, which would have been previously unthinkable had it not been for the cascading geopolitical consequences of Moscow's military intervention in Syria 3,5 years ago.
Andrew Korybko is joined by Vladimir Rodzianko, independent media consultant and Vladimir Golstein, Associate Professor of Slavic Studies at Brown University and frequent commentator on current affairs.
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