Almost all the Israeli media made sensational reports on the results of February 27 negotiations in Moscow between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Referring to sources close to the cabinet, Israeli newspapers write that the head of the government managed to get firm guarantees from Moscow on three main issues of the Jewish state's actions in Syria:
Russia will not arm the Syrian air forces with its S-300 missile systems;
Russia and Israel will form a joint group of experts (diplomats and the military) on withdrawing all the foreign armed forces and formations introduced into Syria during the civil war;
Israel will continue its activities in Syria without hindrance.
Israel's influential Maariv newspaper, citing an anonymous source in the government, believes that the S-300 missile systems deployed north of Damascus will not be used against Israeli air targets, and this will not cause any declines in the Syrian regime's influence. No one will fault Bashar al-Assad for it.
As for the foreign troops and formations, this applies to the military presence of Iran alone. This is the most sensitive and challenging issue for Russia. The Israelis realize that today the Iranian contingent of troops and militias loyal to Tehran are also playing the role of ensuring security of Russia's military presence in Syria, and Moscow is hardly interested in their evacuation for the time being.
Another high-ranking Israeli military expert said the following after Benjamin Netanyahu returned from Moscow: "In the course of long negotiations the Prime Minister eventually failed to get privileges as regards Israeli military actions in Syria." It is safe to say that after this visit, the crisis in Israeli-Russian relations has exacerbated due to the downing of a reconnaissance aircraft of the Russian air force in September 2018 and the death of 15 Russian officers, the military expert said.
According to him, the only dubious achievement of Netanyahu's trip to Moscow is that he informed President Vladimir Putin of Israel's intention to keep delivering strikes on the Syrian territory.
And one more thing. The Israeli military expert is convinced that the publication of materials in the Israeli media was prepared by Benjamin Netanyahu himself. Especially given his political entanglement ahead of the parliamentary elections and the campaign launched against him with allegations of corruption.
It should be noted that the analysis by a high-ranking Israeli military serviceman may accord fully with reality. It took a long time to agree on the Israeli Prime Minister's visit to Moscow and the agenda of the top-level negotiations, and President Vladimir Putin, giving his consent to the meeting, counted on Benjamin Netanyahu's frankness and sincerity after all.
It is known that the negotiations were confidential and long-lasting, and the parties refrained from widely publicizing their outcome. It is safe to say that the Russian side expected the Israelis to demonstrate more understanding and respect for its national and strategic interests in Syria and the entire region, an open interaction with Russia amid the developing military and political situation in the Arab country. This never happened.
On the eve of his trip to Moscow Netanyahu visited Washington. In Russia, he tried to "bargain", pretending that his visit was a goodwill gesture. But he came across a tough position of the Russian leader, who once again (personally this time) warned the Israeli about the danger of continuing provocative actions in Syria and the responsibility of the Jewish state's authorities.
There is no doubt that Benjamin Netanyahu intended to use the talks in Moscow to burnish his credentials in the country. Judging by his further steps, he shot himself in the foot: it is after the events of September 2018 that his authority began to fall noticeably. After the "new party", that was spontaneously formed to comprise influential Israeli generals and officers, accused Netanyahu and his circle of close associates of political myopia towards Russia, as well as other mortal sins.
It is unlikely that the current military and political leadership of Russia will betray Syria. At the same time, Moscow will consistently defend the national interests of Damascus, including the use of force against all the states who will try to prevent Russia from doing so.