Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs held discussions with Hamas representatives in Moscow, as reported by the Russian state news agency Tass on Friday. The talks, which took place on Thursday, revolved around a potential cease-fire and the provision of humanitarian assistance to Gaza, according to Tass.
It is anticipated that this meeting will face criticism from Israel. The Israeli Foreign Ministry strongly objected to Russia’s decision to host representatives from Hamas in Moscow, labeling it as “support for terrorism” and demanding the expulsion of the delegation from Russia.
In response, the Kremlin stated that Moscow thought it was important to be in touch with all parties.
Despite its ongoing involvement in the war in Ukraine, Russia is attempting to underline its role as a mediator in the Middle East crisis, as evidenced by the presence of the Hamas delegation and the Iranian deputy foreign minister.
It’s unclear if officials from Hamas, Iran, and Russia convened on Thursday. Dmitry Peskov, a spokesperson for President Vladimir Putin, stated that there was no communication between the Kremlin and Hamas during the visit.
According to Tass, Iran’s deputy foreign minister for political affairs, Ali Bagheri Kani, stated that Tehran’s “priority” in negotiations “is an immediate cease-fire, providing assistance to the people and lifting the repressive blockade of Gaza” to Abu Marzouk, the head of the Hamas delegation. Kani also had a meeting with Mikhail Bogdanov, the deputy foreign minister of Russia and the Kremlin envoy to the Middle East, on Thursday. According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, the negotiations also covered ending hostilities in Gaza and giving the Palestinians humanitarian help. Bogdanov met with a representative of Hamas separately to talk about the evacuation of foreigners and the freeing of hostages in the Gaza Strip. Russia is attempting to maintain a prominent position in the Middle East crisis despite being preoccupied with its war in Ukraine.
Putin said earlier this month that Moscow’s cordial relations with both Israel and the Palestinians allowed it to act as a mediator, adding that “no one could suspect us of playing up to one party.”
That claim of impartiality notwithstanding, Hamas was left out of a UN Security Council resolution that Russia had earlier submitted denouncing violence against civilians. The council gave it the cold shoulder. Russia is attempting to strike a balance in relations with Iran, which backs Hamas, by carefully weighing its criticism of both sides in the conflict between Israel and Hamas.
Following Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, many Russians emigrated to Israel, and since the fall of the Soviet Union, trade and security connections between the two countries have steadily increased.
However, the invasion has put relations to the test. While many Israelis were incensed by Putin’s assertion that Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the Jewish president of Ukraine, is a neo-Nazi, Israel has expressed support for Kyiv but refuses to arm it.
Moscow has strengthened its connections with Iran as a result of Putin’s war in Ukraine. The Russian military has employed hundreds of Iran-supplied Shahed explosive drones against Ukraine.