Vladimir Putin Negotiating With Israeli PM to Remove American Sanctions on Syria

Russian President Vladimir Putin is reportedly conducting negotiations with Israeli PM Naftali Bennett, hoping for Bennett to use the country’s American influence to roll back sweeping sanctions the United States placed on the government of Syria since the beginning of the nation’s bloody civil war in 2011. Axios reported on the negotiations on Friday.

Mr. Putin has reportedly sought to influence President Biden’s administration to roll back sanctions to allow Russian banks to assist in financing the lengthy rebuilding process Syria will require after a decade of war. The Russian military intervened in the Syrian conflict on the side of Bashar al-Assad’s forces, striking Islamic terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. After a decade of conflict against terrorist groups, Mr. Assad’s forces control the lion’s share of the country.

Israel has had generally strong relations with Russia since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, uninterested in western grievances over disputed territories in Ukraine. A 2019 law favored by neoconservative groups in the United States sought to deter global companies from investing in Syria, essentially preventing reconstruction efforts from any dealings with the western economy. The Russians have indicated that Iranian companies will monopolize Syrian reconstruction efforts due to the law, essentially serving to lock Syria under Iranian influence.

Israel’s relations with the Arab world have decisively improved in recent years, buoyed by Abraham Accord peace agreements in part facilitated by President Donald Trump. The negotiations could indicate that Israel may be seeking to improve its relations with its Levantine neighbors such as Syria, who have fought two wars with the country since 1948. Israel has consistently executed airstrikes on Iranian-backed combatants in the Syrian Civil War, such as Hezbollah, which it identifies as a direct security threat.

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