Russia cited ‘concern’ but did not condemn the Hamas attack on Israel.

Russia has labeled opposition figures such as Alexei Navalny “terrorists” and since attacking its neighbor, the Kremlin routinely labels Ukrainian defense strikes as “terrorist attacks.”

But after Hamas militants launched a brutal surprise attack in which hundreds of Israeli civilians were killed or kidnapped, Russia stopped short of condemning the Palestinian militant group, instead calling for what happened. called it a “spiral of violence” and pointed the finger at the West.

“We are deeply concerned,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said during his daily briefing with reporters. “We believe that the situation should be brought to a peaceful solution as soon as possible, because the continuation of such a spiral of violence is fraught with further escalation of the conflict,” Peskov said.

In a separate statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry said: “Russia is deeply concerned about the rapid escalation of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.”

Russia’s carefully worded reaction reflects decades of nuanced — sometimes contradictory — diplomacy in which the Kremlin has sought stronger ties with Israel while supporting the Palestinian cause and supporting groups like Hamas. who are committed to the destruction of Israel.

But the latest statements, after a spectacular militant attack that prompted Israel to announce its intention to impose a total blockade on the Gaza Strip, also reflect how President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine is now overshadowing all of Russia’s foreign policy—even away from the battlefield. .

Moscow is now relying heavily on Iran, a longtime patron of Hamas, for drones used in attacks on Ukrainian cities and civilian infrastructure.

The village in Ukraine where 52 people were killed by a missile began to bury their dead

Iran’s mission to the United Nations denied on Monday that Tehran was involved in a coordinated attack, insisting that the “response” was taken solely by Palestine. But he also said the attack was “inextricably linked to the legitimate interests of the Palestinian people.”

Meanwhile, drawing a different strange connection to the war in Ukraine, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Monday alleged, without providing evidence, that Ukraine had provided Western-supplied weapons to Hamas that were used in attacks against Israel. were done.

Medvedev’s allegation, released on the Telegram messaging platform, came shortly after Ukraine’s military intelligence issued a public statement warning that Russia was only planning an operation based on such disinformation. Blocking.

“Weapons handed over to the neo-Nazi regime in Ukraine are being actively used in Israel,” Medvedev wrote on Telegram. “Later, like the weapons left behind by fugitive Americans in Afghanistan, their use will go unchecked in all the hot spots.”

The reaction in Moscow on Monday was a mix of high-minded calls for diplomacy – with Russia presenting itself as a reliable mediator – and rapturous applause for the Hamas attack. This was seen as beneficial for Russia as it would distract Ukraine’s Western backers. .

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called for an end to the bloodshed during a meeting with Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit in Moscow on Monday and openly criticized Western countries for decades of failed efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“There is an urgent need to stop the fighting and solve the problem of civilians, who are being targeted in large numbers, and to address the reasons why the Palestinian issue has not been resolved for decades,” Lavrov said. The solution could not be found.”

“We are ready to do this,” Lavrov continued, “along with other countries that have a sincere interest in establishing lasting peace in the Middle East and ensuring the security of all countries in the region, including the State of Palestine.”

Civilians were killed in a Russian missile attack on a funeral in Ukraine.

But some Russian politicians and pundits have focused on the importance of Russia’s relationship with Iran, calling the attacks in Israel a useful development in the broader struggle between Russia and the United States.

Whose ally is Israel? United States of America,” Andrey Grolyov, a member of the lower house of parliament, the State Duma, from Putin’s United Russia party, wrote on Telegram.

“Whose ally is Iran and the surrounding Muslim world,” Groliyev continued. “We. We have our own goals and objectives, which we are fulfilling. We have to fulfill our tasks today.

Sergei Mardan, a Russian propagandist and television presenter, wrote: “This mess is beneficial for Russia, because the global toad will move away from Ukraine and engage in efforts to put out the eternal fire of the Middle East. Iran.” Our true military ally. Israel is an ally of the US. So, choosing a side is easy!

As the war in Ukraine wound down last year, and the Russian military suffered a series of battlefield setbacks, the Kremlin turned to Tehran for supplies of self-exploding martyr attack drones. Russia’s growing military alliance with Iran has alarmed Israel.

Israel is not the only country whose relations with Russia have been strained since the 2022 invasion of Ukraine. Russia has been criticized by Armenia for failing to uphold a ceasefire agreement in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. Russia’s relations with Central Asian countries have also ended.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin has tightened alliances with Iran and North Korea, which could provide weapons of war.

Moscow’s relations with Hamas have been steadily developing for more than a decade, with Hamas leadership visiting the Russian capital several times in recent years.

Putin says grenade fragments were found in the bodies of the victims of the Wagner crash.

Asked by a reporter in 2010 why the Kremlin had begun meeting more with the Hamas leadership, Lavrov said Russia’s main goal was to help restore Palestinian unity. He said that Russia recognizes Hamas as a legitimate political player.

“We started meeting with Hamas immediately after the elections in Palestine were recognized as free and democratic, in which a large part of the Palestinian people voted for Hamas,” Lavrov said at the time.

Lavrov added, “It’s not just us who meet with Hamas, but many others, including those who call Hamas a terrorist organization. We only do it openly, but they do it.” Prefer not to talk about.

In recent years, Russia has become more involved with Hamas. Since 2020, Lavrov has received senior Hamas figures — including the group’s leader, Ismail Haniyeh — in Moscow at least five times, the most recent visit taking place in March.

In a Foreign Ministry readout from the meeting, Moscow expressed its willingness to “continue to help overcome differences and consolidate the leadership positions of Palestinian political forces.”

Meanwhile, Russia’s relations with Israel have deteriorated.

There were expectations that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – who has historically enjoyed good relations with Putin – would turn Israel to Moscow after returning to power in late December.

Instead, Israel showed more support for Ukraine, under pressure from the United States to consider sending defensive weapons to Kiev.

Last year, Lavrov also drew ire from Israel when he criticized Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who is Jewish, by saying that Adolf Hitler had Jewish roots – a statement widely misunderstood and due to An apology is demanded from Israel.

Natalia Abakumova and Robin Dixon in Riga, Latvia contributed to this report.

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