Putin Is Getting What He Wants

October 26, 2023
Hanna Notte

The following is an excerpt from The New York Times.

As Israel and Hamas descend into all-out war, Russia has been more of a bit player than a lead actor. There is no evidence that Moscow directly aided or abetted Hamas’s vicious attack against Israel on Oct. 7, despite some early suggestions. Diplomatically, too, the Kremlin has been of negligible significance, unable to defuse the metastasizing tensions.

Last week made plain its peripheral status. While President Biden traveled to Israel as part of intensive U.S. shuttle diplomacy across the Middle East, President Vladimir Putin of Russia — having waited nearly 10 days to dignify Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel with a phone call — headed instead to Beijing. At the United Nations, Russian officials lamented the war’s civilian casualties and pressed for a humanitarian cease-fire. But it was little more than showmanship. Lacking leverage over the parties in conflict, Moscow cannot arrange the release of Hamas’s hostages or secure humanitarian corridors, let alone stop the fighting.

Vladimir Putin (src: shutterstock.com)

Vladimir Putin (src: shutterstock.com)

Yet despite its limited sway, Russia is emerging as a major beneficiary of the war. With minimal effort, Moscow is reaping the benefits from the regional chaos that threatens Israelis and Palestinians with devastation and desolation. In three key areas — its military campaign against Ukraine, its designs on the Middle East and its global war of narratives with Western states — Russia stands to gain from a protracted conflict. Without doing much, Mr. Putin is getting what he wants.

First and foremost, events in Gaza are distracting Western policymakers and publics from the war in Ukraine. Fighting a grinding counteroffensive while enduring relentless Russian bombardment, Ukraine must now share the airwaves with Israel and the Palestinians. Fears that Western societies have begun to suffer from “Ukraine fatigue,” real enough before Oct. 7, will continue to grow. For Russia, that could bring some welcome respite from the constant scrutiny of its crimes against Ukraine. With all eyes on Gaza last week, a deadly Russian missile attack on the Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia went under the radar.

Continue reading at The New York Times.

Comments Are Closed