Moscow and Tehran's drones against Israel
by Vladimir Rozanskij

Having archived the historic friendship between Putin and Netanyahu, the change in Russian-Israeli relations did not begin on 7 October 2023, but when Israel began openly supporting Ukraine more than a year earlier. And on the Moscow-Tehran-Beijing axis, Middle Eastern issues are both symbolic and practical.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - While Iran attacks Israel with rockets and drones, Russia's representative to the UN Vasilij Nebenzja launches an appeal to the international community to condemn "Israel's wicked actions", for the attacks on the Iranian embassy in Damascus.

It is not the first case in which Putin's Russia has sided with Israel's adversaries in recent years, after the classic Soviet accusations against "Israeli belligerence" seemed to have remained in the past.

Alongside Iran and Russia, the shadow of China also looms large, in a "triple alliance" that seems to consolidate not only in the accusations against the government of Israel, but at the level of global military and geopolitical strategies.

The change in relations between Russians and Israelis was commented in The Moscow Times by Zeev Khanin, professor of political science at Bar-Ilan University, Israel's second-largest academic institution.

He recalls that Nebenzja had already declared several times that "Israel has no right to self-defense", as an "occupation force" against Gaza and the Palestinians, and this "can only be a conscious diplomatic manipulation, certainly not an misunderstanding or a lack of historical information."

Putin's propaganda returns to the Soviet narrative on the "colonial project of the State of Israel", towards the local Arab population, who therefore has the right to fight with any method and weapon. And this neo-Soviet propaganda "tickles and revives the positions of the minorities of the Western ultra-left".

The turning point did not begin on October 7, 2023, according to the expert on post-Soviet conflicts, but on February 24, 2022, "when Israel openly supported Ukraine, even if it did not officially apply Western sanctions."

It seemed that this did not lead to a breakdown in relations, also given the historic friendship between Putin and Netanyahu, even if the coordination between Moscow and Jerusalem in operations in Syria, which had developed positively for years, was now reduced to a minimum.

While the alliance with Iran is now increasingly operational, also at a military level due to the conflict in Ukraine, and Hamas now appears to be a satellite of the Iranians. According to Khanin, Russia "also follows Iran in criticizing Israel, which it has no real need for."

If the Israeli-Palestinian conflict expanded into an open conflict with the entire Arab world, Russia would not benefit from this escalation.

All commentators now openly speak of a "third world war", a conflict between the "Global North" and the "Global South" on various fronts, and Russia aspires to the role of leader of the Global South, together with China and India.

Middle Eastern issues are therefore at the same time symbolic and practical, and Moscow needs to express itself and act with more authority and harshness than China, which also supports similar propaganda against Israel and its allies, but with greater prudence and without burning bridges.  

Zeev Khanin does not believe the version according to which Russia helped organize the Hamas attack on Israel, but he certainly "tries to take maximum advantage of it."

If the war in Gaza had not broken out, the expert recalls, almost certainly "the princes of Saudi Arabia would have shaken Netanyahu's hand, putting an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict forever and establishing diplomatic relations between Riyadh and Jerusalem", with a great US-Israel-Saudi Arabia alliance.

This is why today the counter-alliance of Moscow-Tehran-Beijing was formed, which repeats at all latitudes its denunciation of "American monopolism", which is contrasted with a "multipolar world vision".

The three allies in reality each pursue their own interests, and try to aggregate their vassals; two are nuclear powers, Iran is on the verge of becoming one, they use economic weapons in a diversified way (especially Beijing), and the "multipolar" developments could reserve many surprises in the near future.