Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, is far from a conspiracy theorist, so when he told his cabinet Sunday morning that Iran is working to establish a permanent military presence in and around the Golan Heights, his goal was to form a basis for his talks on Thursday with President Putin.

Netanyahu and Putin have been cooperating ever since September 2015, when Russia began to commit its military forces to influencing the outcome of Syria’s civil war. Russia and Israel established a joint communications command that, so far, has kept both sides far from any misunderstandings that could lead to a military clash.

But Netanyahu will have his work cut out for him in expressing what he called “Israel’s sharp and vigorous opposition to this possibility” of Iran using the Golan as a base from which to attack Israel. Russia and Iran may not be allies, and their relations are marked with mutual distrust and hostility, but they do share the common interest of keeping Bashar Assad in power in Syria.

“Putin wouldn’t be happy about Iran becoming stronger in the region, but if it doesn’t endanger Russia’s influence, or its ports on the Mediterranean, I can hardly imagine a situation where Putin would invest any resources to prevent it,” says Dr. Teper.

Up until now, Putin has played both sides against the middle. He has ignored Iran smuggling advanced weapons systems to Hezbollah, yet turns the other cheek when Israel attacks one of those convoys.

“At least until now, Putin has been respectful of Israel’s interests. It doesn’t mean he will do whatever we ask, but he has made sure to coordinate his moves with the IDF,” Dr. Teper says. “So while I think Netanyahu could try to speak to him about trying to prevent Iran from getting closer to Israel’s borders, in this case I can hardly see it bearing fruit.”