What has been seen as an ongoing presence in the Syria, the Russian backed militia is set to be disbanded and integrated directly into the Syrian army.
Russia’s involvement in Syria has been the main reason why the Assad regime was able to hold its own against militant Islamic fighters since the Arab Spring. Putin committed major forces to helping the Syrian Arab Army stay ahead of the Turkish and American proxies. With the war over in the Golan area, Russia sees no reason to keep its involvement in that area.
This decision by Putin is a double edge sword. Whenever Russia puts its forces or proxies, the Iranians are kept out. When Russia pulls back the Iranians move in. In fact this has caused most of the friction between Israel and Russia. Israel has been forced to deal directly with Islamic militants that moved into the Syrian Golan after Russia moved its forces.
With Russia pulling out altogether, there is fear that Iran will take a wider chunk. However, Bennett’s one on one meeting Putin means that Russia has a big interest in allowing Israel to deal with Iran directly. This will be easier now that Russia is ending its direct involvement.
Russia has never been enamored with Iran’s involvement in Syria. The Mullah’s are helpful to Putin when dealing with Turkey and US forces in Iraq, but Iran’s involvement in Syria complicates Russia’s relationship with Israel – a country he wants to work on bringing into his fold.
The upcoming summit between Bennett and Putin will be critical setting the tone for the Russian-Israeli relationship in the post Netanyahu era.