Putin says he can play the role of peacemaker in Israel — but he has far more to gain from prolonging the war – DIGIWIZ CENTRAL

Putin says he can play the role of peacemaker in Israel — but he has far more to gain from prolonging the war

Pictures of the Russian flag and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin are seen at a petrol station in the city of Jericho in the occupied West Bank on October 8, 2022.

HAZEM BADER/AFP via Getty Images)

The Kremlin says Putin wants to act as mediator in the Israel-Hames war.
The Russian president is friendly with leaders on both sides of the conflict.
But Putin has little to gain from bringing an end to the conflict. 

As violence erupted between Israel and Hamas this week, the Kremlin sought to cast Russian President Vladimir Putin in the role of peace broker. 

Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said Russia could act as a mediator in the wake of the militant group’s attacks on Israeli towns, a music festival, and military bases, and Israel’s bombardment of Gaza. 

Russia, said Peskov, intends “to keep making efforts and play our role in terms of providing assistance to seek ways to a settlement”

Speaking on Thursday, Putin said Russia could “make a contribution to the peace process.”

“Well, why not?” he said. “We have had very stable business relations with Israel. We’ve had friendly relations with Palestine for decades.”

But Russia’s claims shouldn’t be taken at face value, warn analysts. 

They say Putin has more to gain, not by bringing a swift end to the conflict, but by prolonging it to further Russia’s strategic goals, notably in Ukraine. 

Rising oil prices and a distraction from Ukraine 

Putin is playing a long game in Ukraine, which his forces invaded in 2022. He hopes that the commitment of Ukraine’s Western allies, who have provided billions in aid and weapons, will begin to weaken.

“A rival crisis to distract Ukraine’s allies, in the form of war in the Middle East, could provide just this,” writes Robert Dover, professor of Intelligence and National Security at the University of Hull in the UK. 

Such a conflict would divert attention, diplomatic energy, and even military resources from Ukraine should Israel launch a land invasion of Gaza, said Dover. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin (C), Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic (R) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) pose for pictures during the Victory Day reception at the Kremlin in Moscow on May 9, 2018.

ALEXEY DRUZHININ/AFP via Getty Images

Another factor weighing on Putin is the price of oil. 

Russia is heavily dependent on its oil exports to fund its campaign in Ukraine and has acted in tandem with Saudi Arabia to reduce supplies and boost prices. Instability in the Middle East, the world’s chief oil-producing region, could further spike prices.

“As oil prices go up, this enables them to continue spending on arms production and it also helps them cover some budget deficits,” Ann Marie Dailey, a policy researcher at Rand Corporation, told Bloomberg. “Russia absolutely gains an advantage from this in the short-term.”

A power broker in the Middle East 

Russia was a peripheral presence in the Middle East after the collapse of the Soviet Union. But in recent decades, Putin has reasserted Russian influence in the region, forging close ties with Iran, intervening in the Syrian civil war to help prop up the dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad, and cultivating ties with their rivals.

Putin also has friendly relations with both sides of the Israel-Palestine conflict. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declined to criticize Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and Russian officials in recent months have met delegations from Hamas, which it does not designate as a terror group. 

It places Russia in a unique position of having good relations with the governments of implacable regional foes. 

But Russia’s attempts to play the peace broker are unlikely to be sincere, with Arkadi Doubnov, a Moscow-based expert on Russian foreign policy, telling Le Monde it appeared to be part of a ploy to blame the US for the crisis. 

“It does so almost out of inertia and to accuse the West of sabotaging its efforts,” he said of Russia’s peace broker overtures. “In reality, any prospect of playing that kind of role disappeared on February 24, 2022,” with the invasion of Ukraine, he told the outlet. 

But Dover, the Hull University expert, believes that if Russia were to broker talks, it could boost its international credibility and put it in a position to determine its pace and outcome.

“Managing to broker some form of de-escalation brings Russia a little closer to the mainstream of international relations again, and allows it to make a claim — that would be very well received in India, South Africa, China, and so on — that it is a positive and engaged actor in the international system,” he told Insider.

“The US will, of course, be very unkeen on this Russian role. Russia’s central involvement — if it happens — would allow them to help shape the pace and shape of discussions. They have much to gain from a conflict that draws attention and Western military equipment to the Middle East.”

Russia has sought to spin the outbreak of violence to damage Ukraine, baselessly accusing it of supplying weapons to Hamas militants.

There are signs the Kremlin’s attempt to appear to be a neutral power broker are faltering, with Russian officials declining to lay the blame for the latest fighting with Hamas. Russia appears reluctant to say anything critical of Hamas that would anger Iran, which has provided a steady supply of drones Russia has used to attack Ukrainian cities. 

Abbas Gallyamov, a former speechwriter for Putin, told CBC News that Russia had become an “Iran proxy” in the region, like Hamas or Hezbollah. 

Previously if you wanted to get Russia’s position, you needed to negotiate with Russia. Now you’ve got to go to Tehran,” Gallyamov told the outlet. 

Read the original article on Business Insider
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