Ukrainian crisis, Putin’s need to review his policy, relationship with Tel Aviv
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recognition of the independence of the self-declared republics of Dontesk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine on February 21 has left the world divided between supporters and opponents of this decision…
AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA): Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recognition of the independence of the self-declared republics of Dontesk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine on February 21 left the world divided between supporters and opponents of the move. A majority of Western countries condemned Putin’s measure and threatened Moscow with major sanctions. They imposed them as Putin orders a military campaign in Ukraine on Thursday. Some countries close to Russia welcomed this decision. Meanwhile, one actor whose stance on the Ukraine file may influence the future of its relationship with Moscow and even its place in West Asia’s security structure is the Israeli regime.
Israeli procrastination over condemnation of Putin’s decision and rising dilemma of proximity to the West or friendship with Moscow
Despite the clear and swift reaction of many countries to Putin’s new decision on the Ukraine crisis, the evidence shows that the leaders of the Israeli regime have faced the matter with procrastination and confusion. Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid commented on the possibility of Tel Aviv joining Western sanctions against Moscow, saying Israel would consider what steps it should take.
Moreover, the Hebrew-language Kan network recently revealed that there is a possibility of condemning Russia in connection with the conflict with Ukraine. The same network revealed that the Americans have not yet officially asked Israel to condemn Russia, but there are preparations for this. Leaders of the Democratic and Republican parties also told the outlet that Israel should issue a statement on the matter.
Today, the Israeli regime’s cabinet is faced with historic decisions that could seriously affect the future of Tel Aviv‘s relations with Moscow. On the one hand, Israeli officials are under pressure to reject, like Western countries, Putin’s new decision on the two republics, Donetsk and Lugansk. This would mean that Tel Aviv would condemn Putin’s decision and join Western sanctions against Russia. On the other hand, the Israelis, who have a large trade volume and close ties with Russia, are afraid of ending their close ties by taking anti-Russian stances and provoking Putin. In fact, declaring allegiance to the West or maintaining proximity with Russia is a dilemma in which the political cabinet of the Israeli regime is drowning.
Worries over the end of the space for Israeli airstrikes on Syria
Undoubtedly, in the current situation, the most important concern of the Israelis in the Ukraine crisis is that Moscow reconsiders its appeasement-flavored security vision of Tel Aviv and restricts their freedom of action by carrying out occasional airstrikes on Syrian army forces. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov recently told his Syrian counterpart Faisal Meqdad at a meeting that “we strongly condemn the Israeli attacks against Syria, which could escalate tensions in the region.”
Lavrov’s remarks must have been a clear message to Israeli leaders amid the Ukraine crisis, and it greatly affected Israel’s cabinet security meeting. According to the Kan network, at an Israeli cabinet meeting on February 22, the Israelis were disappointed with Russian condemnation of their anti-Syrian aggression and felt that Putin’s anger could harm their freedom of military action by Syria.
Unstable and unsuccessful Israeli-Russian friendship
Developments in Ukraine and Israel’s questionable reaction to Putin’s recognition of two autonomous republics in eastern Ukraine raise suspicions about friendly relations between Russia and Tel Aviv. In recent years, Israeli leaders have tried to make Tel Aviv a close friend, even an ally of Moscow, and with this they have sought to gain privileges from Russia, especially in Syria.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, relations between the two have experienced a significant level of growth and closeness. The presence of Jews of Russian origin in the Israeli regime has undoubtedly played the most important role in the proximity of the two camps. Indeed, a demographic bridge involving more than a million Russians in the occupied Palestinian territories played an important role in expanding Moscow’s relations with Tel Aviv, and even led to Vladimir Putin’s visit to occupied Palestine. in 2005. In response to the Russian-Israeli display of passion at the Tel Aviv cultural center, Putin said he felt there was a small piece of Russian soil in Israel.
It should be noted that Russians run about 21 cultural and artistic institutions, publish several newspapers in Russian and manage about 150 television and radio stations. Even in recent decades, a number of cabinet ministers in the Israeli regime are of Russian origin, such as Avigdor Lieberman, the leader of Yisrael Beiteinu and former foreign minister.
Trade between the two sides has increased significantly over the past three decades. Their trade volume, which was 12 million dollars in 1991, increased to around 2.8 billion dollars in 2008 and almost 3.6 billion dollars in 2015. At the same time, exports from Russia to the Israeli regime mainly include raw materials, including hydrocarbons, diamonds, wood and paper. Russia, along with Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, is the Israeli regime’s main oil supplier. Russian imports are more diversified and include agricultural products, electronic products and medical services.
Also, one of the remarkable points is that the Israeli regime was the only actor after France which was able to sell military weapons to Russia after the Second World War. Also, at the security, political and diplomatic level, there have been close relations between the political leaders of the two parties in recent years.
But despite all this positive trend, one issue has always been ignored and that is that Tel Aviv can never be outside the reach of US-dominated Western grand strategy.
In the current situation, the crisis in Ukraine has clearly shown that the issue of the Israeli-Russian strategic alliance is more of an illusion far removed from the reality on the ground. Tel Aviv cannot side with Moscow not only on the Ukraine issue but also on any other crisis between Russia and the West because the existence and survival of this regime depends on submission and cooperation with the West. The fact that a significant number of Jews of Russian origin live in the occupied Palestinian territories has not guaranteed and will not guarantee a unity and a Tel-Aviv-Moscow alliance.
All these facts indicate that Putin should review his policy of proximity to Tel Aviv and be patient with his aggressive policies in Syria and other regional crises and seek his allies, as the Ukrainian crisis has shown, near Russian borders. . Even in terms of trade and economic interests, Moscow’s relations with the Israeli regime have far fewer comparative advantages than trade with its neighbors. Now, therefore, it is safe to say that the time has come for Moscow to review its policy regarding Tel Aviv.