22 July 2019

Russia-U.S.-Israel meeting in Jerusalem next Monday

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Next Monday, security chiefs from the U.S., Russia and Israel will meet in Jerusalem to discuss “regional security issues”. This bizarre arrangement, excitedly billed in Israel as a “security summit”, but downplayed by Moscow as “expert consultations”, will bring together for two days Russia’s Secretary of the Security Council Nikolai Patrushev, U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton and Israeli Chairman of the Security Council Meir Ben-Shabbat. reports citing foreign media that it was an Israeli initiative to discuss the situation in Syria and Iran’s “malign role” in the region. The Israelis handled almost all the preparatory work, dispatching teams to Washington and Moscow with little direct interaction between Russia and the U.S.

For Moscow, it is really awkward to discuss issues surrounding Iran, Russia’s regional partner and, since 2015, a military ally in Syria, with Iran’s sworn enemies — Israel and the United States, — in Jerusalem and in the midst of a major spike in US-Iran tensions that might well end up in a military collision. Russia knows that the Israelis and the Americans will try to drive a hard anti-Iran agenda that Russia does not share.

The trilateral format is also a downgrade for Russia’s exclusive peer-to-peer dialogue with the U.S.

There is ample speculation about some “Grand Bargain” in which Russia would agree to drive Iran out of Syria in exchange for U.S. and Israeli recognition of the Syrian regime and U.S. lifting sanctions on Syria, opening the doors for the post-war international reconstruction funding. This is not in the cards.

2019.06.20 / 16:07
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