RUSSIA AND THE NEW ME -Part IV: Can Russia be induced to use its UN veto to protect Israel

Part I:  The USSR and the Old Middle East

Part II: The Russian courtship of Israel during the first two decades of this century.

Part III: Russia’s Predicaments both foreign and domestic

By Ted Belman and Alex Maistrovoy April 18/21

Under Vladimir Putin, Moscow is positioning itself as a center of power in world politics, capable of acting as a mediator in regional and local conflicts – something that the United States and Europe are unable to do.

Hard boiled Putin probably sees the policy of the West generally, and the USA specifically as characterized by:

  • Inconsistency, unpredictability, and incompetence. Every administration since Obama has radically changed the course of the previous administration. This policy has become grotesque today under Biden. As a result, American friends and allies simply do not know what to expect from Washington.
  • The spirit of Munich. Pacifying enemies and betraying friends. From the Obama administration on to Biden-Harris, interrupted by Trump, the US has embarked on a course of appeasing its enemies instead of making them pay their bills. Obama betrayed the Gulf countries and Israel to appease Iran. He betrayed Hosni Mubarak to appease the Muslim Brotherhood. In 2009, he shook hands with Gaddafi but two years later he bombed Tripoli and promoted “jihadists” in this country. He imposed sanctions against al-Sisi, who sought to draw closer to America and battled with ISIS on Sinai Peninsula. He forced Netanyahu to apologize to Erdogan for …Erdogan’s own brazen provocation with Mavi Marmara near the coast of Gaza. It was a public humiliation of Israel. He also held back Israel in the Gaza war against Hamas and supported anti-Israel resolutions at the UN.
  • Unfortunately Trump, too, allowed the Kurds (loyal allies of the US) to be torn apart by Erdogan and his thugs. He called Erdogan “my friend”, “honest, damn good leader,” “a tough man, a strong man”.
  • The Biden-Harris administration stepped up their hostility toward Saudi Arabia further to appease Iran and its proxy, the Yemeni Houthis.
  • Cowardice, weakness. The US is not ready to fulfill its own obligations. Obama was afraid to strike Syria when Assad crossed Obama’s “red line,” and then let jihadists tear to pieces the American Ambassador Christopher Stevens in Benghazi. Obama left Iraq to the mercy of fate and opened the door to the atrocities of ISIS and Iran. American presidents let Erdogan systematically humiliate all the allies of America – Israel, Cyprus, Greece (not to mention the Kurds). When the Turks and Iranians slaughter the Kurds, and Erdogan sends Syrian militants to Libya, the West expresses “deep concern” and calls for a “peaceful solution to the conflict.” Would you rely on a power whose contribution to the protection of world order and its allies is expressed in “deep concern”? Could you imagine British Empire the 19th century behaving in such way?
  • Moralization and “double standards”. Is the US really committed to protecting democracy and moral values? Its UN Ambassador just attacked it as based on racism. Its own behavior suggests principles have little to do with US policy, If the US was protecting Kosovars from ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, then why is it not protecting the Serbian minority in Kosovo who were victims of ethnic cleansing? Obama supported the Palestinians who handed out candy, danced on rooftops after 9/11 and murders American citizens. Why? Why did he support the “Muslim Brothers” in Egypt and Libya? If the US is defending “democratic values” in Saudi Arabia now, why isn’t it defending those in Iran, Turkey, Qatar and Pakistan? And why did Obama leave Iranian students to the mercy of fate during the Green Revolution? Is this called “moral values”?

In any case it’s not about “democratic values”. It’s about unpredictable preferences and ideological bias.

Unfortunately, only a madman would now trust America.

Putin is leveraging the perceived weakness of America to influence events in the Middle East.  Here are some examples.


  • acted as a successful intermediary during the escalation of tensions between Israel and Hezbollah in 2018;
  • established a coordination mechanism with Israel in Syria; and recently
  • organized a meeting between representatives of Israel and Syria at a high level, which was an unprecedented event.

According to Asharq Al-Awsat,  Syrian and Israeli officials reportedly met at Hmeimim Air Base in Syria under the auspices of Russia in December 2020.

“The Russia-sponsored meeting tackled several issues, including Israel’s demand for Iran to pull out its militias from Syria, said the Jusoor for Studies website.”

“The website said the meeting included Syrian national security bureau chief Ali Mamlouk, presidential palace security aide Bassam Hassan, Israel’s former Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot and commander of Russian forces in Syria, Alexander Chayko.”

It was a great achievement for the Kremlin.

“The website said that “no specific agreements were reached, but it represented the beginning of Russian efforts” towards a certain objective. More meetings are expected in 2021.”

On March 3/20, Al Monitor reported: “Russia as mediator could change Israel, Hamas game rules

Hamas went to the Kremlin March 2 for a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

“We can only guess at how senior Israeli figures would have reacted if such a visit had taken place in a European, Asian or Latin American state. But when Putin opens the Kremlin gates to Hamas, Netanyahu chooses to remain silent.”

Pragmatic Reasons

Israel is a part (and a highly developed part) of the Western world, but at the same time it is not involved in the blocs and alliances directed against Russia. This is Israel’s uniqueness for Putin.

So far, Israel does not participate in the sanctions against Moscow and could be a supplier of Western know-how, which Russia, is in dire need of. For example, in 2011 the Russian innovation center Skolkovo and the Israeli company Ariel R&D launched the Israel Skolkovo Gateway project for development of innovative technologies. The Russian company Rusalox has launched the production of boards for electronic devices using a patented Israeli technology; a number of Russian companies operate in the Israeli IT market.

For Russia, this is a unique way to gain knowledge and experience in the area of high-tech, where Russians are far behind the West.

For Russia, Israel, if not a friendly, is definitely not a hostile country. On the rare occasions when Israel has supported friendly countries like Georgia or Ukraine at the UN, it has always remained neutral toward Moscow. Israel has also never issued moral preaching to Russia about “human rights” and “civil liberties” which are extremely irritating to the Kremlin.

Fortunately, Netanyahu avoids following such a mediocre course.

Cultural Reasons

A huge Russian-speaking community has formed in Israel (in proportion to the country’s population, it is the largest Russian diaspora in the world). Economic and cultural cooperation between Russia and the Israeli Russian community is flourishing. This community has become a bridge between the two countries. In addition to bringing the two countries closer together culturally, there are substantial economic dividends.

“Jewish influence” in Washington

In Russia, as in many other countries, the ancient myth of an influential and powerful American Jewish community is traditionally very strong. Russians know a little here about the specifics of relations between Israel and the American Jews, many of whom are basically progressive and no longer Zionist (and sometimes even anti-Zionist). The Russians still believe (sometimes on a subconscious level) that a powerful Zionist lobby with close ties to Israel is behind any American government. As absurd as it is, they believe that Israel has powerful leverage over the White House, the State Department and the Pentagon.


The mediocre course of the US under the Democrat party plays into the hands of Putin. Of course he doesn’t want  to lose the opportunity this offers.

After the Obama administration ostracized the Sisi government for overthrowing the Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt, Putin traveled to Cairo and turned Egypt into a Russian strategic ally. Amid Obama’s attacks on Israel, he forged good relations with Netanyahu and created conditions for cooperation in Syria.

After Trump, contrary to his promises, left the Kurds to their fate and started withdrawing American troops from Northern Syria, Russia came there as a defender of the same Kurds. Today, as Biden turns its back on Saudi Arabia and its allies, Russia is preparing a bilateral roadmap for trade and economic cooperation with the kingdom, which includes cutting oil production. Given the financial difficulties of the US and the abandonment by the Democrats the project of pipeline from Canada, their ban on drilling new oil and gas wells on federal lands and the extraction of shale oil, this decision could have far-reaching consequences.

By political pressure, rhetoric about “human rights”, appeasement of Iran and flirting with the MB, the USA is pushing the countries of the region into the arms of Russia.

And what about Israel? Without doubt, Putin will not give up Moscow’s declarative traditional support for the Palestinians, but at same time he can sabotage the backstage efforts of Democrats to isolate Israel and put pressure on it, as was the case during the UN vote at the end of Obama’s presidency.

Now that the US has returned to backing the Palestinians with diplomatic and financial support, Putin can reconsider his backing of the Palestinians (leaving aside the traditional rhetoric about a Palestinian state) and consider becoming a primary diplomatic supporter of Israel.  Such a move would undermine the US in the Middle East and endear Putin to the MAGA crowd in the US. Israel would be in a far better position to benefit the Russians for their support than the Palestinians are. Putin could also strongly support the Abrahamic Accords at a time when Biden is pulling back somewhat. Russian support for these accords would be warmly received by the Gulf states and Egypt. The combination of Russian diplomatic and military support and Saudi money would put great pressure on the US and Iran.

For Israel, this approach, paradoxically, could be beneficial. It would be great if Israel had Russian support to counter-balance American pressure from the Obama-Biden crowd and future Democrats. Who knows, maybe Putin can be induced to use Russia’s UN veto to protect Israel

In Syria, the Russians, like Israelis, are interested in weakening Iran. Russia will not formally recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan but at the same time it will try to prevent Iranian provocations there. At same time Russia will also contain Turkey in Syria, which is very important for Israel.

Strategically, through its empty rhetoric together with unskillful and hostile actions, the Biden administration will further bring the positions of the Arab countries and Israel closer together. To resist US pressure and the expansion of Iran and Turkey, both Arabs and Israel will have to increasingly turn to Russia for mediation. As a result of this, Russia will get a good chance to replace the USA as the most influential actor in the region.

A more predictable, careful and balanced course of the Kremlin might even be better than the policy of appeasement and the betrayal of their allies by Biden-Harris administration.

Ted Belman is the editor and publisher of Israpundit. 

Alexander Maistrovoy was born in Moscow in 1960. Profession – journalist. Started working in journalism from the beginning of the 80s, published many articles in various Moscow editions. In 1988 immigrated to Israel, worked for Russian-language Israeli press. Till now has worked with Russian-language newspaper “Novosty Nedely”. 

He has been published in several English Internet editions and websites including Israel National News, Jihad Watch, Canada Free Press, Liberty Unyielding,  World Tribune and others. 

He is the author of Agony of Hercules or a Farewell to Democracy (Notes of a Stranger)

April 27, 2023 | 9 Comments »

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9 Comments / 9 Comments

  1. Just reading this now.
    I have always hoped that Bibi and Putin would become close (not necessarily good friends but geopolitical allies).
    As you stated, Israel has much to offer Russia. Its high tech sector is invaluable to all the super powers and Russia wants in on it. Israel’s location in the center of the ME bordered by the Mediterranean & the Red Sea where shipping is crucial makes it a strategic partner. Not to mention that Putin is not crazy (well, crazy like a fox maybe). He knows that he would never want his partners like the muslim leaders in Iran or other radicals in other arab states to control things. He knows first hand about Islamists and their true goals to rule the dhimini world (unlike the Biden administration who still don’t get it). He of course would prefer to deal with normal people like Israelis. No less important is the fact that he is not an antisemite! So long term this makes it very possible for Russia under his leadership to become allies of Israel.
    On the other side, Russia can offer Israel plenty especially now as we see and as you meticulously stated, that the US under Obama and Biden in particular, has turned against Israel and has proved without a doubt that they no longer in Israel’s corner.
    If anything Israelis must know (they don’t need to hear it from us) that they cannot and must never rely on anyone else to protect them. Their best ally is G-d and industrious Israelis themselves. They’ve known this from their modern day inception in 1948 and many times afterwards, when they were under extreme, existential threats from their neighbours in every direction – they could not rely on the US or any traditional western nations to help them.

    This post is April 2024, 6 months after the horrific attack by Hamas on innocent Israelis. Sadly, so far Russia has done nothing to help Israel. In fact Putin and Biden are for once saying the same thing: Israel is committing a genocide on Gazans. But recently Putin and Russian civilians had a taste of Islamists killing their own in Moscow no less.

    Not a one of us knows where this will lead but we all know that things can change dramatically in short time spans. I for one hope that Putin comes around and supports Israel. He is one of the few who can stop WWIII and calm Teheran down. As Iran is spiralling into bankruptcy and risks a complete economic breakdown, Putin has an opportunity to step in and help them with the caveat that they must lay off their nuclear aspirations and leave Israel alone.

  2. Russia, like all normal powers, pursue its own national interests.
    If it is serves Russia’s national interests, Russia will support Israel, recognize Israel’s claim to the entire area between the River and the Sea, acknowledge that Palestinians are a fake nation created by the Soviet Union, veto all anti-Israeli resolutions, and support it militarily.

    This can happen if Israel can offer Russia a deal that is worth all that for Russia.
    It has nothing to do with Russia being democratic, or fascist, free market, or oligarchy, ect.

    What do we have to offer Russia in exchange for all that?
    It is like buying a house, pay what the seller wants, and you’ll get the house.

  3. @Adam

    The longest alliances are ones that are based upon history and a mutual world view. But it may also be said that no such common footing is needed to create a bond of alliance towards a specific goal. The fact that Netanyahu was able to reach Putin and gain such a point of alliance as benefited Israel over the past many years is significant beyond the benefit such a bond created, as it proved that such a state of mutual gain was more than hypothetical.

    Russia is an oligarchy where the state papers write as their associated powerful elites dictate, but it is quite irrelevant to the mindset of a mutual goal as was clearly behind the Putin-Netanyahu alliance. Also, Russia does not need to love Israel or even like her people, but he only needs to know that by intervening to support the Israeli position in Middle East, as with the Abraham Accords or within the UN, he might advantage the respect and position of Russia at the expense of the US.

    Additionally, Russia wants a Middle East that is less chaotic and more stabilized to prevent the continuation of wave after wave of refugees spreading north to his nation and those surrounding it. This is at least part of the basis for his military involvement in the region. All of this is quite aligned with the achievements of the Abraham Accords. Indeed, Iran and Russia are at crossed purposes in thought and action on this very point. There are common goals, significantly beneficial to both Israel and Putin, but more than this, there is now a formative plan in the Abraham Accords that could successfully stabilize the disintegrating Sunni nations which only give an advantage to Iran and Turkey.

    I believe such common goals should be pursued aggressively by Israel to both secure her own position and confound the imagined goals of Obama’s third term, which should not be cast as any rock of friendship to rely upon, do recall Afghanistan. The unfortunate fact that a puppet sits in the Foreign Ministry whose strings are tuned by American Liberals renders the topic quite moot, but it is this factor which will leave the task untended when it might very well provide a great benefit to the State. In truth, I think it was no mere coincidence that Putin timed his change of policy against Israel so distinctly with the change of govt, ie with the fall of Netanyahu and the Rise of Lapid.

    In his most recent premiership, Netanyahu was always motivated towards exhibiting Israel’s sovereign resolve. When pressed he knew how to take the fight to his adversaries shores, even when the adversary was the leader of the free world acting to empower a rogue terrorist state intent upon establishing its own nuclear program. He was also not so craven as to accept a defeat as certain when he could possibly rise to the occasion with a personal summit as was successfully displayed when he brought the premiere of Russia to a common understanding of Israel’s security needs. Who knows, perhaps Lapid could do half as well if he but at least made any effort to pursue a similar summit with Russia. But then again, the very purpose of the strings is to bind a puppet to its masters will and against any independent actions. Perhaps, something close to this is what prompted Putin when he chose to alter his Israel policy with the Lapid govt….

  4. Russia is blasting Israel verbally for protecting itself by destroying Iranian weapons facilities inside of Syria.

    This not the act of a friend. Russia supplies the missiles to Syria by which it shoots at Israeli planes.

    Do not confuse Russian pragmatic behavior and some mutually beneficial business and occasional diplomatic moderation with a true friendship. Russia correctly views Israel as part of the American allies.

  5. The answer to this question is no. Russia has consistently voted for all anti-Israel resolutions in the Security Council and the General Assembly. The Russian government press is extremely critical of Israel. Russia has been providing Israel’s main enemy, Iran, with substantial assistance, even technical assistance and advice, as it develops nuclear weapons. It has provided Syria, also an enemy of Israel , with advanced surface to-air missiles to intercept Israeli air attacks. Russia has even hosted a Hamas representative in Moscow. Russia has repeatedly denounced the Israeli Air Force for allegedly placing Russian aircraft in Syria in danger. It even blamed Israel when the Syrians shot down a Russian plane.

    It its also true that Israel has a thriving trade with Russia, that Putin has visited Israel and met with Netanyahu twice, and that he invited Netanyahu for talks in Moscow on many occasions. I don’t understand these contradictions. But for whatever reason the cordial personal relationship between Putin and Netanyahu did not translate into Russian diplomatic or military support for Israel. And since Netanyahu was deposed as Prime Minister, that personal connection has been lost.

    It is true that Israel and Russia have a thriving trade relationship,

  6. The promise that this article provides is enormously important given the current and, not so recent, US policy jumps that have occurred, and which have most recently culminated in the now infamous Afghan betrayal. Such severe changes in the political will of the US to tolerate prior policy commitments on an enduring basis leads to the obvious need of a political ally less traditional but more stable in its policy moves which could safeguard the international assurances previously played by the US.

    Russia played such a role for Israel in 2016 in countering Obama’s thinly veiled actions to complicate the political board game waged against Israel even as Trump was the president elect. To entreat with Russia to again play such a role would not only be wise but quite essential seeing that the will of Obama in the form of all his former toadies have now returned to the American Court of Power.

    The reality of such a possibility occurring, however, is quite undone by the role that would need to be played by the poorly suited talents of the current Foreign Minister/dual Prime Minister also known to be America’s man in Jerusalem, Lapid the great. His efforts in just a few months has been to the unsurprising effect of assaulting many of Israel’s international allies and further isolating the State towards one ally alone, the aforementioned USA, even as the US is currently acting out its most recent and most actively destructive and violent policy shifts yet, to the great detriment and harm of her most senior allies and partners.

    There is no likely path that will take this American pet towards displacing the US intents for Israel with any assistance from Russia. It would be wise, it would be advantageous, and it would be practical, but none of these terms well describe the unfortunate state of Lapids unflappable lack of political tact and his immoderate dedication towards his America First agenda.

    Should something change in the Foreign Ministry, like the man dictating Foreign policy, well, that might allow policy objectives that might better benefit the state to advance, including an appropriate pursuit of a Russian alliance that might at minimum enhance the unsteady dedications of the American alliance. Indeed Lapid’s apt stewardship was unable to even prevent, even for a few months, Putin from changing his tolerance for Israel’s unhampered access to strike Iran in Syria, something he allowed for 6yrs prior to Lapid’s arrival in his current authority.

    So, I believe now, as I did when Ted first authored this article that this policy of pursuing a Russian alliance/understanding was not just valid but essential and that the pursuit of a common interest between the two states could benefit each. Yet reality provides a harsh education and it is always best to accept the lesson being taught. With this in mind, such a well championed policy as this is well beyond the contemplations of the American toady occupying the Foreign Ministry and who is acting out to serve his American Liberal allies, even as it leads to the detriment of his own nation. Most unfortunately so.

  7. Concerning Part IV of this series. I feel that there is a lot of wishful thinking in this article.

    This is the first I have heard about Russia allegedly mediating between Israel and Hamas in 2018. I do not recall that Israel expected a war with Hamas in that year.

    Russia’s hosting a representative of Hamas in Moscow is not evidence of a pro-Israel policy.

    While Israel has refrained from criticizing Russia, the reverse is not the case. Russia has continued to be very critical of Israel.

    A secret meeing between Syrian, Russian and Israeli officials aimed at reducing tensions and avoiding all-out war between Israel and Syria is not evidence of an alliance between the three countries. Adversaries and enemies sometimes hold secret meetings in an attempt to avoid an all-out war between them. For example, Saudi Arabia is said tohave recently had secret meetings with Iran in an effort to avoid an escalation of their conflicts with each other. Yet Saudi Arabia and Iran remain adversaries in Yemen and Syria.

    It is true that Russia and Israel do a lot of trade with each other, the Russian Orthodox Church has strengthened its presence in Israel, and there are perhaps a million Jews and some non-Jews in Israel who immigrated from Russia. But this has not led to pro-Israel diplomacy by Russia. Israel also does a lot of business with Wester Europe, and there are some Israeli citizens who immigrated to Israel from these countries. Yet they are hostile to Israel on the diplomatic front.

  8. If you read the article carefully, you would understand that this is not about friendship or Putin’s sympathy for Israel. This is exclusively about the interests of Russia, and Russia is interested, for a number of reasons, in cooperation with Israel. The article also says that Russia will continue to formally support the Palestinians and Syria – this is part of its traditional policy, but this does not prevent the Kremlin from successfully cooperating with Israel on a number of important issues and even supporting it if it would be beneficial to Moscow’s interests. As it was during the vote at the UN under Obama.
    You are confusing truly friendly relations (which Israel has with Australia or the Czech Republic, for example) with geopolitical games in which Israel is assigned, from the Kremlin’s point of view, a certain place. Please read the article carefully.

  9. Russia is no friend of Israel. Never was, and probably never will be. This op-ed in the government-published Russian English-language daily RT should be proof if any more were needed.

    Israeli settlers attack Palestinians, steal land with impunity. Imagine outrage & calls for sanctions if any other state did it
    Every aspect of their existence on occupied Palestinian land is illegal. Still, the violence perpetrated by Israeli settlers against civilians continues, propped up by Israel’s legal system and the world’s blind eyes.
    Periodically, we will hear in the news something about the illegal colonies (settlements), but increasingly rarely over the years, and generally without a human face: just numbers and false promises to end the expansion of these colonies choking Palestinians from their land.

    Recently, UN Special Rapporteurs and experts shed light on the uptick of brutality and land theft by Israeli colonists. In a new UN report, they noted:

    “In 2020, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) documented 771 incidents of settler violence causing injury to 133 Palestinians and damaging 9,646 trees and 184 vehicles mostly in the areas of Hebron, Jerusalem, Nablus and Ramallah. Already, during the first three months of 2021, more than 210 settler violent incidents were recorded, with one Palestinian fatality.”

    Also on Israel tells International Criminal Court it doesn’t have authority to investigate crimes in Palestinian territories
    Stop for a moment and imagine this was a report on violent incidents by Russia, Syria, Venezuela, or any of the nations in NATO’s crosshairs. Media would be howling with outrage and faked tears, with demands for heads to roll, or at least for perpetrators to face justice.

    But this is occupied Palestine, where the Israeli legal system serves continued colonist expansion and terrorism against Palestinians. And, let’s be clear, what the colonists do to Palestinians is indeed terrorism.

    Colonists have burned alive a Palestinian youth, shot and killed Palestinian civilians, have run people over, including children, leaving them to die. They routinely attack farmers trying to work their land or harvest their olives.

    They hail stones, large rocks, sewage and waste onto Palestinians walking or living below their illegally occupied homes, steal Palestinians’ flocks of sheep (or poison them), even uproot and thieve their olive trees.

    This has been going on for decades, and the so-called international community allows it, in spite of overwhelming documentation of these crimes.

    And the article continues at great length in this vein. And don’t tell us this only reflects the views of the Foreign Ministry, or the editors of RT, etc. Vlandimir Putin is a strong leader who controls every aspect of Russian government activity. A state-subsidized publication would not publish this kind of stuff about Israel without his approval. At RT frequently publishes this kind of stuff, thr reaonable assumption is that it is published with Putin’s consent.

    Putin’s cordial personal relationship with Netanyahu does not mean that their two countries are friends. After all, Donald Trump and Kim-jung-un got along reasonably well on a personal level during their many meetings. But Trump did not end the U.S. sanctions on North Korea, and North Korea did not stop testing weapons of mass destruction, which was Trump’s condition for relaxing the sanctions. The purpose of the Trump-Kim meetings was their attempt to find some way of ending the conflict between the two countries. I believe the Putin-Netanyahu meetings had the same purpose. IN all probability, Putin and Netanyahu spend their time discussing how to avoid war between the two countries, not Russian support for Israeli interests in the UNited Nations (of which there has been no evidence since roughly 1949).

    Neither of these two examples of summit diplomacy, so far at any rate, has succeeded in ending the conflict between the countries that these leaders represent. The conflicts are not about any personal dislike of the leaders for each other, but rather their countries’ conflicting interests.