Netanyahu to make Russia visit before Israel elections
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Tuesday plans to visit Russia in the coming days, before elections are due to take place in Israel later this month.
Netanyahu is running for prime minister again during 17 September polls where he will face contender Avigdor Lieberman, the head of the nationalist Yisrael Beitenu Party who relies on support from Israelis with roots in the former Soviet Union.
Netanyahu will travel to Sochi on Thursday and is expected to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, hoping to snatch some votes from Russian-speaking Israelis.
The Israeli premier is in a last-minute push for votes ahead of the election as he fights to continue his reign as the country's longest-serving prime minister.
Part of his strategy has involved trying to pull votes away from his rival.
Netanyahu has also sought to highlight his relations with world leaders, including Putin and US President Donald Trump.
Netanyahu hinted that he would meet Putin in Russia to discuss Tehran's military presence in Syria, where Israel has carried out hundreds of airstrikes on Iranian and Hezbollah targets.
Iran, Russia and Hezbollah all back Bashar al-Assad's regime in the Syria war.
Israel and Russia have established a hotline to avoid accidental clashes in Syria, but the system did not prevent a friendly fire incident in September 2018 when Syrian air defences downed a Russian plane during an Israeli raid.
Netanyahu also met with Putin in Moscow days ahead of Israel's 9 April elections.
The Israeli prime minister failed to form a coalition government after those polls and opted for a new election.
He again faces a strong challenge from ex-military chief Benny Gantz and his centrist Blue and White alliance.