Russian President Vladimir Putin, talking to religious leaders, threatened a spread of hostilities if Israel’s bombing of Gaza didn’t stop. The irony of Putin’s statements, however, seemed to go unnoticed. While the Russian president was speaking, Moscow’s armed forces were still killing innocent Ukrainians in an unprovoked invasion now into its 20th month. The Kremlin’s leader was particularly critical of the West in supporting Israel’s defending itself after the horrific, murderous attack by Hamas terrorists on October 7.
While Russia’s complicity with Iran in supporting the Hamas attack on innocent civilians is being debated, Putin lectured the assembled Russian clerics and other church official on Israel’s actions. It seems pretty cheeky for Putin to put on the mantle of self-righteousness while his troops are doing precisely what he is warning Israel and its allies not to do. Putin was emboldened to counsel world leaders: “Our task today, our main task, is to stop the bloodshed and violence. Otherwise, further escalation of the crisis is fraught with grave and extremely dangerous and destructive consequences. And not only for the Middle East region. It could spill over far beyond the borders of the Middle East.”
The Hypocrisy of Putin
Where Putin, with fresh blood on his own hands, jumps the shark with apparently no shame is his claim that Israel’s supporters, “unnamed forces,” want to “provoke further escalation and to draw as many other countries and peoples into the conflict as possible.” What makes Putin’s narrative total hogwash is that Russia, if it wanted to, could immediately stop Iran from providing arms and financial support to Hezbollah and Hamas. He won’t, of course; when he talks about the West wanting to “provoke further escalation” in the Israel-Hamas war, he’s projecting his own motives and goals.
In their excellent analysis entitled “What Putin Stands to Gain From Israel-Hamas War,” published in Foreign Policy, Amy Mackinnon and Jack Detsch wrote:
“The Israel-Hamas war has, after 600 days of fruitless fighting in Ukraine, given Moscow a priceless opportunity to turn the West’s eyes elsewhere, as well as a poisoned-chalice chance to reshape its entire approach to the Middle East. The Israel-Hamas war has suddenly shrunk the bandwidth of even the majority of legislators who had long supported US aid for Ukraine’s fight for national survival; the need to rush aid to Israel has put immediate assistance to Kyiv in some doubt.”
From the US perspective, the perversity of the Russian narrative is that, despite moving US Navy carrier strike groups into the Eastern Mediterranean as a show of force, Putin is calling America’s bluff. While President Biden was talking tough and warning Hezbollah and others who might consider taking advantage of the Hamas inhuman assault on Israel, “Don’t,” Iran’s proxies have attacked US military bases in Iraq and Syria 13 times, according to a Pentagon briefing on October 24. The Pentagon spokesman, US Air Force Brigadier General Patrick Ryder, readily admitted: “We know that the groups conducting these attacks are supported by the IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) and the Iranian regime.” So, have there been any counterstrikes on Iran? No.
The Price of Failure
This failure to follow up words with actions gives Putin and others the license to create disinformation and push contempt for the US. It also allows for time to pass when pro-Hamas terrorist factions worldwide, on US university campuses, and in the streets of left-leaning cities to incite violence toward the American Jewish community and any other community calling Hamas terrorists. Putin can spread lies about US intentions and Israel’s right and responsibility to defend itself because he knows there will be no serious consequences, and his audience – anti-West, anti-Israel, and specifically anti-US organizations – will believe him.
And who is giving Putin time to do his mischief? President Biden and his national security team. “The Biden administration has advised Israel to delay a ground invasion of Gaza, hoping to buy time for hostage negotiations and to allow more humanitarian aid to reach Palestinians in the sealed-off enclave, according to several US officials,” The New York Times reported. Buying time works to Hamas’ benefit more than Israel’s. The Hamas terrorists have time to fortify positions. Hezbollah has time to harass northern Israel from Lebanon, threatening a second front. Militant Palestinians in the West Bank have time to riot and attack Israelis in nearby towns. It allows for the false storylines to propagate, for pro-Hamas terrorist surrogates to make it more difficult for Israel to do what it needs to do – destroy Hamas.
Creating chaos in the Middle East and blaming it on the US is the perfect gambit for Russia. Biden’s failure to respond decisively allows the Kremlin to divert attention from its atrocities in Ukraine and gives its puppet, Iran, the liberty to attack US soldiers at will. The ludicrous stance Putin takes reprimanding America for prompting bloodshed in the Israel-Hamas conflict while Russia murders innocent women and children in Ukraine is beyond the pale. But he takes that license because he knows there is no penalty.