Netanyahu, Putin to Meet in Moscow Tomorrow

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, January 29, 2018. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
Netanyahu and Putin in Moscow, January 2018 (Photo credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO)

In what is believed to be their eighth official meeting in two years, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will travel to Moscow to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin tomorrow.

Why so many visits in so few years?  Are the two allies or enemies?

I hear those questions at times and, while I don’t pretend to know all there is to know about these two men and their motives and agendas, I certainly have thoughts about those things.  First, the two are far from allies, but I believe each recognizes the potential challenges to their own agendas if they do not find a way to cooperate on a few things.

For example, I don’t believe either nation wants to enter war with the other.  Yet, they have very conflicting interests in Syria, where a significant portion of the action is taking place.  While Russia is backing the Assad regime in Syria, alongside Iran, Putin has seemingly turned a blind eye when Israel has needed to do business in Syria militarily, to keep Iran from transferring weapons to Hezbollah and to keep Iran from establishing a threatening presence just the other side of Israel’s border.

Over the course of the 7-year-long Syrian civil war, Russia has become increasingly involved and, more recently, entrenched in Syria.  With significant military presence there, it has become increasingly important that Israel coordinate military efforts with the Russians in order to avoid inadvertently drawing fire from them.  Thus, frequent visits between the two leaders.

Tomorrow’s visit, however, is said to be focused on regional developments.  Following Netanyahu’s bold unmasking of Iranian nuclear plans, he has lobbied world leaders, particularly those who signed off on the nuclear deal in 2015, to fix the deal.  Russia was a party to that agreement, and has been very resistant to modifying it, but I suspect it is safe to surmise that will be a large part of the conversation.

Biblically speaking, what should we make of this?  We know that Ezekiel 38 refers to an invasion from the north, led almost assuredly by a power-hungry Russian leader.  Putin fits the description, and the “players” named in Ezekiel 38 are fairly clearly identified as Iran and Turkey (among others), who are very active in Syria.

So, is the War of Gog and Magog (referenced in Ezekiel 38) upon us, or could it be delayed diplomatically? Is it possible, though an attack from a Russian-led coalition is ultimately inevitable, it could be delayed via peaceful negotiations between Netanyahu and Putin?

We don’t know…but we can pray.

Blessed are the peacemakers…
~Matthew 5:9

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