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Putin's Strategic Calculus: Navigating Global Power Dynamics Amidst the Crisis in Gaza

Friday, 03 November 2023 12:47 Opinion

"Putin's Middle East Gambit: Reshaping Global Influence Through Strategic Moves in Gaza"

Amidst the turmoil in Gaza, the Kremlin is seizing an opportunity to revive Russia's influence in Middle Eastern politics, reminiscent of the Soviet Union's superpower era. A notable event on October 26 saw a Hamas delegation, led by politburo member Mousa Abu Marzouk, engaging in talks in Moscow. The discussions, officially centered on the safety of Russian citizens in Gaza and hostage release, raised concerns about coordination between Hamas, Russia, and Iran, as evidenced by the simultaneous presence of Iran's deputy foreign minister, Ali Bagheri Kani.

This strategic move, despite Israeli protests, aligns with Vladimir Putin's intentional strategy to bolster Russia's diminishing sway in the Middle East. Putin employs deft diplomacy and cynical opportunism to carve out a role for Russia in a region historically integral to its great power aspirations. The article draws parallels with the Cold War era, highlighting how Moscow exploited Arab nationalism to serve its strategic goals, undermining Western alliances and cultivating relationships with emerging Arab states.

Recounting historical instances, the text mentions Moscow's military aid to Egypt, Syria, and Iraq during the mid-20th century, as well as skillful maneuvers during the Suez Canal crisis in 1956. It outlines Soviet efforts to rebuild Arab armies after the 1967 Arab–Israeli war, emphasizing the underlying goal of achieving a comprehensive peace settlement through Soviet-American collaboration.

In essence, the article explores Putin's calculated moves in the Middle East, drawing on historical context to understand Russia's ambitions in the region."

"The historical context reveals the challenges Moscow faced in the Middle East, notably during the Yom Kippur war in 1973. The Soviet Union's influence, built on military aid and advocacy for the Palestinians, reached its peak in the 1970s. However, the end of the Cold War marked a decline in Moscow's standing in the region.

Putin's resurgence in the Middle East, particularly through support for Syria's Bashar al-Assad, has been a strategic move, albeit hindered by the protracted war in Ukraine. Russia's involvement in Syria, seen as a check on Iran's influence, has prompted delicate balancing acts by leaders like Benjamin Netanyahu, seeking to maintain ties with both Russia and Ukraine.

The recent Hamas attack, disrupting this delicate equilibrium, adds a new layer of complexity. Unlike the Soviet era, Russia is not currently a superpower capable of projecting force across the region and sustaining broad influence through military and economic aid."

"Putin's Strategic Move: Leveraging Relationships in the Middle East Amidst the Gaza Conflict"

In the ongoing turmoil in Gaza, Putin is strategically positioning Russia as a mediator in the peace process, capitalizing on its ties with Iran, Syria, and contacts with Hamas. Seeking to regain lost international stature due to the Ukraine invasion, Putin aims to insert Russia into Middle Eastern politics. He has asserted Russia's capability to mediate, citing traditional relations with Palestinians and good ties with Israel.

Putin's approach involves championing the Palestinian cause, refusing to blame Hamas, and sponsoring a failed ceasefire resolution at the UN Security Council. By doing so, he hopes to deflect criticism of Russia's actions in Ukraine, using the Palestinian situation as a distraction. Despite limited superpower status, Putin can score moral victories and cheer from the sidelines, avoiding direct involvement in a widening war.

While Putin doesn't seek escalation, a broader conflict involving Russia's partner, Iran, poses risks. However, in the current crisis, Putin's decisions have limited impact, unlike the Soviet era's extensive involvement in the Middle East. Notably, a Middle East war could benefit Putin economically by potentially raising oil prices, offering Russia dividends amid the region's woes.

"In conclusion, Putin's strategic maneuvering in the Middle East amidst the Gaza conflict underscores his calculated efforts to leverage regional relationships for geopolitical gains. The attempt to insert Russia into the peace process serves as a means to regain international stature diminished by the Ukraine invasion. Putin's emphasis on championing the Palestinian cause, sponsoring UN resolutions, and deflecting criticism from Ukraine showcases a nuanced approach to deflecting attention and shaping Russia's image on the global stage.

While Putin avoids direct military involvement, his positioning allows for symbolic victories and strategic influence. The limited bearing of his decisions on the current crisis contrasts with the extensive Soviet engagement in the Middle East during the Cold War. Importantly, the potential economic benefits for Russia, such as the prospect of elevated oil prices, add a layer of complexity to Putin's considerations.

As the Gaza conflict unfolds, Putin's actions will continue to be scrutinized, revealing the extent to which Russia can play a meaningful role in shaping the region's dynamics and its broader implications for international relations."

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