On the global stage, Russian President Vladimir Putin finds himself increasingly isolated due to Russia’s ongoing military aggression against Ukraine. Nevertheless, he has been actively engaged in Middle East diplomacy amidst the escalating conflict between the radical Palestinian group, Hamas, and Israel. Putin’s vocal support for Palestine has earned him points with several Arab states in the region.
In a recent development, the Kremlin leader held discussions with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, where Netanyahu conveyed Israel’s commitment to decisively and unitedly combat what he described as “vile and cruel murderers.” Israel vowed to persist in its military operations until it neutralizes Hamas’s military capabilities and leadership. The conversation, it is believed, was initiated by Moscow.
In this conversation, Putin informed Netanyahu of Russia’s efforts to stabilize the situation and prevent further escalation. Putin emphasized the need to avert a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip and shared key points from his recent discussions with leaders of Palestine, Egypt, Iran, and Syria. Notably, during this call, Putin made critical remarks about Israel, drawing an indirect comparison between Israel and the German army during World War II, a statement reported by The Times of Israel.
While Russia, deeply embroiled in its own year-and-a-half-long aggressive campaign against Ukraine, has faced widespread international condemnation for the heavy toll on civilian lives and casualties among its soldiers, Putin cautioned Israel against launching a ground operation in Gaza. He pointed out the inherent difficulties and severe consequences associated with using heavy military equipment in densely populated areas and emphasized the absolute unacceptability of civilian casualties in a region with approximately two million inhabitants. Additionally, Putin reaffirmed Russia’s support for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
On a diplomatic front, Russia proposed a resolution to the UN Security Council addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The resolution called for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, the release of hostages, and the safe evacuation of civilians. While the text explicitly condemned violence against civilians and terrorism, it notably omitted any mention of Hamas and its October 7 attack on Israel. Consequently, the United States, Britain, France, and Japan did not support the resolution, with only China, the United Arab Emirates, Mozambique, and Gabon voting in its favor. The remaining Security Council members abstained from voting.
In addition to his conversation with Netanyahu, Putin also engaged with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who is set to visit Moscow in the near future. Abbas, who leads the Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank, has distanced himself from Hamas, particularly condemning attacks on civilians from all sides. Notably, there have been reports of Hamas expressing gratitude to Russia for its current stance on the Gaza Strip.