Russian President Vladimir Putin has welcomed the return of Benjamin Netanyahu as head of the most far-right Israeli government the country has known and signalled an intention to strengthen cooperation, the Kremlin said.
“I hope that the new government under your leadership will continue the line of strengthening Russian-Israeli cooperation in all areas for the benefit of our peoples, in the interest of ensuring peace and security in the Middle East,” Putin said in a message to Netanyahu, quoted in a statement on Thursday.
“In Russia, we greatly appreciate your personal and longstanding contribution to strengthening friendly relations between our countries,” Putin said.
Netanyahu, 73, took the oath of office on Thursday, moments after Israel’s parliament passed a vote of confidence in his new government.
After the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February, Israel adopted a cautious position towards Moscow, seeking to maintain neutrality.
Israel has particularly emphasised the special ties between the two nations as Israel is now home to more than a million citizens from the former Soviet Union.
Russia’s foreign ministry said it was “ready for constructive cooperation” with Israel to “clear up the climate in the Middle East and the international scene in general”.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also wished Netanyahu “success on the way to the welfare & security of Israel” on Twitter.
He spoke of Ukraine’s “readiness for close cooperation to strengthen our ties & confront common challenges, achieve prosperity & victory over evil”.
Israel has not furnished arms to Ukraine, despite Zelenskyy’s repeated requests.
United States President Joe Biden on Thursday called Netanyahu his “friend for decades” and said he looked forward to working with him “to jointly address the many challenges and opportunities facing Israel and the Middle East region, including threats from Iran”.
But, Biden warned, the US will “continue to support the two-state solution and to oppose policies that endanger its viability or contradict our mutual interests and values”.