For the past six months, twenty-six year-old Israeli-American Naama Issachar has been held in Russia after airport security in Moscow discovered 9.6 grams of marijuana in her bag. Recently, she was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison. Israeli officials have rightly decried the punishment as excessive.

Returning Isaachar would be a great diplomatic coup for Benjamin Netanyahu, reinforcing his image as the protector of Israelis and Jews at home and abroad. And on its surface, it would be an easy feat to pull off. After all, compared to Netanyahu’s requests that Vladimir Putin turn a blind eye as Israeli Air Force jets bomb Russia’s allies in Syria, the release of a young tourist caught with a small amount of pot in her checked baggage during a stopover at Sheremetyevo Airport sounds like a small ask. But authorities in Moscow aren’t budging, and Netanyahu may now be waking up to the fact that Russia was never Israel’s friend.

There is a reason Likud draped a poster of Benjamin Netanyahu shaking hands with Vladimir Putin over its party headquarters in Tel Aviv before the last Knesset election. After Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin was the foreign leader Benjamin Netanyahu most liked to be seen alongside. Putin leads a major world power that boasts the world’s largest nuclear arsenal. To Netanyahu, Putin also carried a perceived electoral appeal with the million-plus Russian-speakers in Israel (although most of these individuals are not from Russia itself). Above all, Putin represented an enemy that Netanyahu “flipped,” an anti-American leader who befriended bad actors in Damascus and Tehran, but one Netanyahu could skillfully manage and even claim a close friendship with.

Lately, that friendship hasn’t seemed all it’s cracked up to be, and there were long signs that a break-up was coming. When Russia first intervened in the Syrian Civil War in 2015, Moscow begrudgingly permitted Israeli airstrikes against Iranian and Hizballah targets, while Israel avoided a wider intervention in the conflict. Then, last September, Syrian air defenses, triggered by an Israeli sortie, accidentally downed a Russian troop carrier, killing all aboard. The incident drew Russia’s ire, and in the end, Moscow supplemented the Assad regime’s stock of 1960s era S-200 anti-aircraft batteries with the slightly newer and more sophisticated S-300 system, a strategic loss for Israel.

Just days before the April Knesset elections, Putin agreed to meet with the Israeli prime minister in Moscow. The interaction between the two leaders seemed warm and amicable. Standing beside  President Putin, Netanyahu even announced that he had arranged via Russia the return of the remains of IDF Sergeant Zachary Baumel, who went missing in Lebanon in 1982. This was the Putin Netanyahu liked to present in his campaign posters, and the diplomatic wizardry the prime minister wanted voters to recognize him for.

In September, Netanyahu tried to repeat the same pre-election stunt by paying a visit to his friend in the Kremlin. But this time, the Russian president played an entirely different part. Putin gave Netanyahu a cold reception in Sochi, his summer residence (and notably not in Moscow, where he had met Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan just a few weeks prior). There, the Israeli prime minister was forced to endure a humiliating three hour wait before his host appeared, only to then admonish Netanyahu for his campaign promise to annex the Jordan Valley. That flew in the face of a long-held Israeli understanding that any Russian commitment to the Palestinians was more a Cold War anachronism than a real foreign policy priority.

Netanyahu cannot be blamed for the circumstances surrounding the present debacle involving Naama Issachar. It appears that the Israeli-American traveler and the hapless officials trying to help her in Jerusalem are the victims of a wider geopolitical play involving Russian hacker Alexsey Burkov. He was arrested in Israel for massive credit card fraud on an Interpol warrant, and has been held there ever since. Only recently, when it became apparent that Israel would extradite him to the United States, did the Russians take a great interest in returning him home, and at this stage we may only speculate as to why. It now seems Issachar is being kept as human collateral to incentivize Israel to Burkov’s return (and the Israelis, for their part, are moving ahead in sending the hacker to the United States).

Regardless of the circumstances surrounding Isaachar’s detention and the onerous sentence she received, the use of a young tourist as blackmail is not befitting of a friendly government. Perhaps Putin was tired of being used an election prop by Netanyahu, or perhaps he simply doesn’t care and was never the partner the prime minister imagined him to be. Either way, Russia’s handling of Isaachar’s case does not bode well for the Israelis when they have to approach Moscow on issues with more far-reaching consequences, like the situation in Syria. Already, there are reports that Russian aircraft intercepted Israeli jets attempting strikes over Syria in recent weeks, and that Moscow will be less generous in determining what kind of Israeli action it permits there. Russia has reason to feel newly emboldened with the sudden American exit from Syria, when President Trump abruptly abandoned the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces to a Turkish invasion. That incident has left Israel diplomatically adrift, cast into an uncertain position by the extemporaneous behavior of a U.S. president Netanyahu had hedged strongly on. In this precarious position, Russia is proving to be cold comfort for Israel.