Russia Treads Cautiously Amid Israel-Hamas Conflict While Aiming to Bolster Global Influence

by Ryan Lee
Russia's approach to Israel-Hamas conflict

In a bid to strengthen its international standing and counteract Western attempts to isolate it over the Ukrainian situation, Russia is adopting a calculated stance on the Israel-Hamas war.

Though Moscow has limited means to act as a mediator in the Middle East, it may exploit existing concerns over the West’s handling of the crisis as a way to gain political leverage.

The ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict serves another purpose for Russia: diverting global attention from the Ukraine conflict and diminishing support for Kyiv.

However, Moscow faces potential pitfalls, including jeopardizing its diplomatic relations with Israel, a country that thus far has refrained from supplying arms to Ukraine.

Diplomatic Stances and International Interactions

Russian President Vladimir Putin has denounced the Oct. 7 assault by Hamas militants on southern Israeli towns. Concurrently, he cautioned Israel against implementing a blockade on Gaza, drawing parallels with Nazi Germany’s blockade of Leningrad during World War II.

Putin criticizes American diplomacy in the region, accusing the United States of opting for financial aid to Palestinians at the expense of efforts to establish a Palestinian state. He has suggested that Moscow, with its good relations with both Israel and the Palestinians, could act as a neutral mediator.

However, despite assertions of impartiality, a recent U.N. Security Council resolution proposed by Russia, which condemned violence against civilians, conspicuously omitted any mention of Hamas and was subsequently rejected.

China sided with Russia in support of the draft resolution, illustrating a unified stance between the two nations. Last week, their Middle East envoys met to explore collaborative measures for de-escalating tensions, underscoring their commitment to a two-state solution.

Delicate Balancing Act

While Western leaders like U.S. President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak promptly visited Israel, Putin took nine days before contacting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, despite their previously warm relations. Putin’s discussions on the conflict extended to regional leaders, including those of Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Syria, and the Palestinian Authority.

According to a Kremlin summary of his conversation with Netanyahu, Putin conveyed his condolences for the loss of Israeli lives and emphasized his unequivocal condemnation of acts that harm civilians. He also stressed the necessity for resolving the conflict through diplomatic channels.

Domestic and Foreign Policy Challenges

Other Russian officials have been more forthright in criticizing Israel’s actions. Konstantin Kosachev, deputy speaker of the Russian parliament, described Israel’s response as “disproportionate” and “inhumane.”

Domestic considerations may be influencing Russia’s posture, given that Muslims constitute approximately 15% of the Russian population. Moscow-backed Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has been vocally supportive of the Palestinians, criticizing Israel’s actions.

While this stance garners acclaim from Hamas and resonates within the Arab world, it simultaneously endangers Russia’s hitherto amicable relations with Israel, which has avoided joining Western sanctions against Russia or arming Ukraine.

Complex Reactions and Future Possibilities

Critics within Israel have expressed dissatisfaction with Russia’s role. Andrei Kortunov, the academic director of the Russian International Affairs Council, acknowledged the risks of straining relations with Israel. Concurrently, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov reiterated Russia’s anti-terrorism stance and advocated for a quick cease-fire and the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Internally divided opinions have also manifested among Russian commentators and policymakers. Some even see Moscow’s increasingly anti-Israeli position as a relic from Soviet times.

In summary, Russia faces a complex landscape, attempting to exploit the ongoing conflict for geopolitical gains while balancing domestic and international concerns. Its calculated approach to the Israel-Hamas war has far-reaching implications, not only for its standing in the Middle East but also for its larger global ambitions.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Russia’s approach to Israel-Hamas conflict

What is the main focus of the text?

The main focus of the text is to analyze Russia’s carefully calculated approach to the Israel-Hamas conflict, with the aim of understanding how Russia is attempting to bolster its global influence while managing domestic and international complexities.

How does Russia view the Israel-Hamas conflict?

Russia appears to adopt a balanced stance, condemning attacks by Hamas while also cautioning Israel against blockading Gaza. Russian President Vladimir Putin has offered to mediate due to Russia’s good relations with both parties.

Does Russia have any domestic considerations in its approach?

Yes, domestic considerations play a role in Russia’s approach. Muslims make up about 15% of Russia’s population, and the Moscow-backed leader of Chechnya has voiced strong support for the Palestinians. This may influence Russia’s stance on the conflict.

What are the potential risks for Russia in this situation?

The risks include damaging its relationship with Israel, which has so far refrained from joining Western sanctions against Russia or supplying arms to Ukraine. Russia’s stance also garners acclaim from Hamas but resonates negatively in the Arab world.

What role do other countries like China play in Russia’s approach?

China supported a Russian-drafted U.N. Security Council resolution that condemned violence against civilians, though it made no mention of Hamas. This suggests a unified stance between China and Russia on the issue.

How does Russia’s approach impact its relations with Western countries?

Russia aims to counter Western efforts to isolate it, particularly concerning the situation in Ukraine. The Israel-Hamas conflict provides Russia an opportunity to challenge Western diplomacy and potentially divert attention from the Ukraine conflict.

What are the internal divisions within Russia concerning this conflict?

There are differing opinions within Russia on how to approach the Israel-Hamas conflict. While some officials have been forthright in criticizing Israel’s actions, others have been more cautious, and internal debates reflect these diverging viewpoints.

More about Russia’s approach to Israel-Hamas conflict

  • Russian Foreign Policy on the Middle East
  • Russia’s Relations with Israel
  • The Israel-Hamas Conflict: A Timeline
  • Russia-Ukraine Conflict: Recent Developments
  • Russia and China: A Geopolitical Alliance
  • U.N. Security Council Resolutions on Israel and Palestine
  • Russia’s Domestic Muslim Population and Foreign Policy

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Alice Johnson October 25, 2023 - 1:32 pm

Gotta say, was surprised to see China backing Russia’s stance in the UN. Seems like a quiet alliance is forming, wonder what that means for the rest of us.

John Smith October 25, 2023 - 4:18 pm

Wow, this is really comprehensive. it’s easy to forget that Russia has its own tightrope to walk domestically, given the Muslim population. Makes their diplomatic moves in the Israel-Hamas situation more complex for sure.

Michael Davis October 25, 2023 - 4:52 pm

Really makes you think about the bigger chess board that all these countries are playing on. Russia’s trying to gain clout but there are definitely risks involved. Don’t see that discussed a lot.

Sarah Williams October 25, 2023 - 10:55 pm

Great analysis! Always thought Russia was just stirring the pot for the sake of it, but this paints a more nuanced picture. Who knew diplomacy could be this intricate?

Emily Brown October 26, 2023 - 3:32 am

Quite the deep dive here. Interesting how Russia sees this conflict as an opportunity to divert attention away from Ukraine. Two birds, one stone kinda situation, huh.


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