Report: Putin Negotiating With Israeli PM to Get U.S. to Lift Sanctions on Syria

Chris Menahan
Oct. 28, 2021

Russian President Vladimir Putin is negotiating with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to get the United States to lift sanctions on Syria "in order to allow Russian companies to take part in the reconstruction of the country," Axios reports.

From Axios, "Putin seeks Israel's help in easing U.S. sanctions on Syria":
Russian President Vladimir Putin asked Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to encourage the Biden administration to ease some of its sanctions on Syria in order to allow Russian companies to take part in the reconstruction of the country, Israeli officials briefed on the talks tell me.

The big picture: The U.S. Caesar Act, which was signed into law by President Trump in Dec. 2019, imposed sanctions on several sectors of the Syrian economy, including energy and infrastructure. The law is the main deterrent for foreign companies interested in getting involved in the Syria reconstruction effort.

Behind the scenes, Israeli officials say Putin wants Russian companies to get most of the big reconstruction projects in Syria, to boost both revenues and Russian influence in the Syrian economy.

- Putin told Bennett during their meeting in Sochi last Friday that some Russian companies are afraid to do business in Syria because they don't want to be hit by U.S. sanctions.

- The Russians argue that this opens the way for Iranian companies that are already under U.S. sanctions to get those major projects, thereby increasing the Iranian influence in Syria, Israeli officials say.

- The Israeli Prime Minister's office declined to comment.

Between the lines: The Russians seem to hope that the Israeli interest in weakening Iran's hold in Syria will encourage Bennett's government to push the Biden administration to ease the sanctions.
Putin reportedly agreed not to hinder Israel's airstrikes in Syria during their negotiations in Sochi.

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