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News & Analysis

What Would Russia Do If War On Palestine Goes Regional?

Ahmet Mehmet

Image Source - Pixbay Free Content

In March 2023, when Chinese President Xi Jinping was departing from Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin told him that “we are encountering changes unseen in a hundred years. Let us work together in order to regulate them.”

Fast forward to October 2023. Putin’s words could not have been more prescient.

Zionist Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza and Palestine in general is impacting Russia’s geopolitical approach in West Asia. Palestine has for centuries shaped geopolitical and intellectual global trends far beyond its borders. Many Russian regional experts view the relentless Israeli bombardment of Gaza and its war on Palestinians in the West Bank as unlike anything seen in more than 20 years.

For the first time in decades, war against the apartheid regime in occupied Palestine is being waged on political and military terms not framed and dominated by Israel. This unique aspect of the war has obviously not gone unnoticed in Russia.

Since Moscow began its military operations in Ukraine, western neo-colonial regimes went into full-scale military, political and economic confrontation with Russia on a global scale. Considering Palestine’s importance to the whole world for a variety of reasons, Moscow understands that in this global set-up, it cannot allow western regimes to emerge with geopolitical gains from the situation in Palestine.

It must be borne in mind that since the collapse of the USSR, Russia and Israel have had very close ties in numerous fields. To provide an overview of this close relationship, it is enough to mention two publicly known facts about Russian-Israeli cooperation.

Israel Aerospace Industries, pretty much jump-started Russia’s military drone industry in 2010 signing a $400 million deal with Moscow. In 2019, Israel canceled military contracts with Ukraine in order not to upset Moscow.

Also, regular Israeli airstrikes on Syria are carried with the tacit consent of Russia. These aspects of Russian-Israeli partnership may create the impression that Moscow will continue to maintain strong bilateral relations with Tel Aviv. Israeli aggression in Palestine combined with the war in Ukraine, however, have thrown in some previously non-existent variables. These are forcing Russia to reconfigure its policies towards Israel.

It is important to understand the multidimensional nature of how Russia, as society and state, views what is happening in Palestine and what the Russian government’s calculations are. An overview of the social media along with state and non-state media outlets in Russia point to the fact that a dual track reformulation is taking place on how to deal with Israel.

There is a multifrontal confrontation between NATO and Russia. This has led increasing numbers of Russians to view wealthy dual national Israeli-Russian oligarchs and prominent personalities as disloyal to Russia. They left Russia for Israel after the war in Ukraine started.

Some Russian-speaking social media users have even said that wealthy Israeli-Russian dual nationals abandoned Russia in its most vulnerable time in modern history. The added dual nationals had made their fortunes in Russia.

During the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok in September, Putin personally spoke about the destructive conduct of former high ranking and wealthy Russian official Anatoly Chubais, after he recently moved to Israel. Societal attitude in Russia towards the zionist genocide in Gaza is also being shaped by another factor.

Many Islamically-motivated members of the Russian security forces from the Republic of Chechnya are seen as the “good guys” who stood by Russia in its hour of need. Also, Ramzan Kadyrov’s use of sentiments about the war in occupied Palestine to boost his own “Islamic” credentials via social media is aiding the promotion of pro-Palestinian attitude among many Russians.

At the government level, the attitude on what to do about Israel can be simplified into two camps, the diplomatic camp, and security camp.

The diplomatic camp of the Russian governing elite has a more favorable attitude towards Israel and does not advocate a radical shift away from an already established traditional Russian policy on Israel.

This can be observed in recent conferences and publications of a non-profit academic and diplomatic think tank, the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) on the ongoing events in occupied Palestine. The RIAC acts as a prestigious club for many retired Russian diplomats. Its recent comprehensive conference on Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza shows it is still wedded to the established Russian policy.

The diplomatic camp, it seems, still believes that using the zionist lobby’s influence in Washington, Moscow may at some point be able to broker a diplomatic sit down with the US over Ukraine. This view, however, is becoming increasingly untenable as the war in Ukraine grinds on. It has turned into a strategic and prolonged proxy war between the US and Russia.

The military and security establishment, on the other hand, takes quite a hostile attitude towards Israel. It is most loudly represented by Russian National Security officials like Dimitry Medvedev and publications like Military Observation.

Attitudes which paint Israel as part of the US-led global opposition to Russia due to the war in Ukraine are getting more traction among prominent Russian pundits and media organizations. This perspective was reinforced when a prominent member of the ruling Israeli Likud party, Amir Weitmann stated on Russian television that “after we win this war... we will make sure that Ukraine wins... Russia will pay the price…”

It should be remembered that during the cold war era, the security and military apparatus of the Soviet Union, from which Russia’s key officials emerged, had a close military and intelligence relationship with various Arab leftist resistance organizations. Even after the collapse of the USSR, Russia always viewed this relationship as a key pillar and building block of its policy in the Arab world.

Considering that the war in Ukraine is continuing and NATO regimes have prioritized the military route in dealing with Russia, it is highly unlikely that Russia will adopt a diplomacy-centered approach to the conflict in a vital region where grand western interests are quite vulnerable.

This leads to the question: what will Russia do once the war in Gaza acquires a more regional character? While Russia is unlikely to get actively involved in a regional conflict, it will not allow western regimes to win the war in a geopolitically crucial region such as Palestine.

Russia will also not allow Islamic Iran and its allies to lose this regional war. Kremlin’s calculations are based on pure realpolitik rather than alliance loyalties only.

Russia understands that a stalemate or perceived victory for Islamic Iran in Palestine will deal a heavy psychological, political, and economic blow to NATO regimes. It will affect how NATO will see the prospects of conducting a prolonged war with Russia in Ukraine.

More specifically, Russia will do its outmost to make sure that western-backed takfiri terrorist groups based in Syria’s Idlib province do not take advantage of the situation and indulge in destabilizing actions. In addition, as Syria will likely be the logistical base of the Resistance Axis fighting apartheid Israel, if the war spreads to other countries in the region, Russia is likely to provide Syria with some sort of air-defense weapons and satellite intelligence.

On a political front, where Russian contribution is likely to be most active, Moscow will not allow NATO regimes to use the United Nations Security Council as political leverage against the Resistance Axis. In this endeavour, Russia will likely coordinate closely with China, Iran, Brazil and Venezuela.

The fact that Russia hosted a Hamas delegation in Moscow and did so at an early stage of the conflict is a clear sign that Kremlin means business. Taking the ground situation into account, Russia is saying to Israel and the western regimes that Moscow has made its strategic choice. Such concrete political moves are not made haphazardly, especially considering the situation in Ukraine.

Russia clearly made complementary political, social, and military plans to proceed further, understanding well what hosting Hamas entails and the reactions it will evoke. Once the war goes regional, it can no longer be ruled out that Russia will participate in some direct form. This can take multiple dimensions, from supplying the Resistance Axis with weapons via the “black” market to shutting its eyes to Russian “volunteers” joining the regional battle.

While Russia’s specific policies will evolve based on military realities on the ground, its relations with Israel are clearly heading towards a major reset. Israel will have little direct influence in this rearrangement. This, however, will not necessarily apply to Israel’s regional and strategic adversaries.

Article from

Crescent International Vol. 53, No. 9

Rabi' al-Thani 17, 14452023-11-01

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