Russia seeks to take mediator role between Israel and Iran

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday that "all issues should be solved through dialogue." (AFP)
Updated 10 May 2018
0

Russia seeks to take mediator role between Israel and Iran

MOSCOW: Following Israeli strikes on Iranian targets in Syria, Russia has positioned itself as a mediator between the Middle Eastern rivals as it has maintained good relations with both countries.
“The Kremlin is sitting on two chairs,” Russian analyst Alexei Malashenko told AFP.
“It is a complex and difficult situation for Russia that has links with both of the sworn enemies.”
Israel carried out raids on dozens of Iranian military targets on Thursday after it said around 20 rockets were fired from Syria at its forces in the occupied Golan Heights.
Russia was quick to call for restraint, with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov saying on Thursday that “all issues should be solved through dialogue.”
He added that Russia had warned Israel to avoid “all actions that could be seen as provocative” the day before the strikes, when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in Moscow for talks with President Vladimir Putin.
Russian analyst Fyodor Lukyanov said relations between Putin and Netanyahu were “very good” and that the meeting, on the eve of the strikes, showed Russia could play a major role in the Israel-Iran dispute.
“Moscow could use its good relations with the two countries to help them communicate and make sure confrontation does not exceed certain limits,” Lukyanov said.
Russia has become a major player in the Middle East since intervening in the Syrian war on the side of the Damascus regime in September 2015. Analysts also highlight its role as mediator in other conflicts in the area.
“The role of Russia as a mediator is strongly appreciated in the region. This role will be reinforced if the crisis between Israel and Iran worses,” said Alexander Krylov, a foreign policy expert at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations.
Krylov told AFP that Russia’s “additional value” is that it has good relations with forces that other actors refuse to speak to such as with Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran and the Kurds.
Russia’s good ties to Israel were demonstrated by Netanyahu’s visit, he said.
“I do not rule out the idea that Israel gave some clues to Russia about the strikes,” Krylov said.
But even if Russia considers Israel’s security concerns over Iran legitimate, Lukyanov said, it sees Iran as an “indispensable partner on many issues, especially in Syria.”
Russia, Iran and Turkey regularly meet to discuss the regulation of the Syrian war, where the three countries have positioned themselves as major players.
Unlike Turkey, Iran and Moscow are unflinching allies of the Bashar Assad regime and often maintain a united diplomatic front.
Analyst Alexei Malashenko said Russia would do everything possible to maintain relations with both Israel and Iran without taking a stand, especially since Israel’s strikes “do not threaten” Moscow’s position in Syria.
“If Israel were to defy Russia’s dominant role, Russia would react and take a stand. This is unlikely to happen because Israel knows Russia defines the rules in Syria,” said Lukyanov.
But if escalation continues, Moscow will find it difficult to keep playing a mediator’s role.
“Even with the best intention, nobody can bring Iran and Israel to the same table,” said Malashenko.
He added that Russia is also closely watching Washington’s exit from the Iran nuclear deal, which the Kremlin has opposed. On Thursday Moscow said it would continue a “close collaboration” with Iran on the agreement.
Lukyanov said it may not have been coincidental that the Israeli strikes took place shortly after US President Donald Trump announced his country’s withdrawal from the deal.
“Iran’s enemies can only be inspired by this decision: there is a very strong anti-Iranian sentiment,” Lukyanov said. “Increased US pressure on Iran has certainly helped Israel fulfill its agenda.”


Russia says US is playing with fire by imposing new sanctions on it

Updated 21 min 22 sec ago
0

Russia says US is playing with fire by imposing new sanctions on it

  • The Trump administration imposed sanctions on the Chinese military for buying fighter jets and missile systems from Russia
  • Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said in a statement it seemed to Moscow that imposing sanctions on Russia had become a national US pastime

MOSCOW: Russia on Friday called a new wave of US sanctions misguided, saying Washington’s habit of using sanctions against Moscow risked undermining global stability and was part of a dangerous game.
The Trump administration imposed sanctions on the Chinese military on Thursday for buying fighter jets and missile systems from Russia, in breach of a sweeping US sanctions law punishing Moscow for meddling in the 2016 US election, something Russia denies.
The administration also blacklisted an additional 33 people and entities associated with the Russian military and intelligence.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said in a statement it seemed to Moscow that imposing sanctions on Russia had become a national US pastime, noting that the latest wave of restrictions was the 60th sanctions package since 2011.
“Each new round of sanctions proves our foe’s complete lack of success in pressuring Russia with previous such attempts,” said Ryabkov, who added that Washington would never succeed in dictating its conditions to Moscow.
“It would be not bad if they remembered about the concept of global stability which they are unthinkingly undermining by whipping up tensions in Russia-US relations. Playing with fire is stupid and can become dangerous.”