US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin plan to meet on July 16 in Helsinki for discussions on a broad array of issues. Trump may seek Moscow’s help in eliminating Iran’s military presence in Syria.
In recent Senate testimony, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo admitted, “If the Russians could get the Iranians out of there, I would applaud it.” So would Israel! Although not a participant in the Helsinki negotiations, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will play a pivotal behind-the-scenes role. His productive personal relationships with both Putin and Trump will serve as a catalyst for any US-Russia deal on Syria.
Netanyahu talks of his “great respect for Russia for its contributions to civilization and for the courage of its people” in the fight against Nazism. Putin describes their relationship as “good” and “trust-based.” One of his state-run think tanks said, “If this personal relationship… didn’t exist, our relationship with Israel would have been much tenser.”