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Netanyahu in Russia to discuss Syria with Putin

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Russia amid concerns that Russia is planning to sell an advanced air defense system to Syria.

The two leaders met Tuesday at Putin’s villa in the Black Sea resort of Sochi to discuss the Syria situation.

The S-300 missiles would significantly boost Syria’s ability to stave off intervention in its civil war.

“I am pleased to have this opportunity to try and consider together how to stabilize the region and look for ways to bring security and stability, which are certainly important for us but for you as well, for our common goals,” Netanyahu said in a statement released Tuesday by his office.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on May 10 that Russia would fulfill the contracts it has already concluded with Damascus, including air defense missiles and artillery systems; he did not specifically mention the S-300 system.

However, Syria reportedly has already begun paying Russia for several S-300 systems under a current contract.

Israel also fears that the advanced air defense system could fall into the hands of the terrorist organization Hezbollah, based in southern Lebanon.

Netanyahu was scheduled to return to Israel on Tuesday evening, before the start of the Shavuot holiday.

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