Sergei Lavrov (left) and Ismail Haniyeh (right) in March 2020. (Photo credit: Al Mayadeen Net)
A high-level delegation representing the Palestinian resistance movement, Hamas, was received by Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Mikhail Bogdanov in Moscow on 16 March.
The delegation had previously met with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, during the visit, which Hamas spokesperson Saleh al-Arouri said “was an important visit that highlights the role of the movement with many global actors.”
At the head of the delegation was the head of Hamas’ international relations office, Musa Abu Marzouk.
The meeting with Bogdanov took place at the Russian Foreign Ministry and focused on the volatility of the current situation in Palestine, particularly in relation to the escalatory measures of Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, a source told Al-Mayadeen news.
During the meeting, the delegation affirmed its legitimate right to armed resistance in order to confront the Israeli occupation and continued Israeli violence and oppression of Palestinians. In turn, Bogdanov emphasized his country’s support for the Palestinian people.
The visit comes as Israel has been stepping up its brutal raids in the occupied West Bank in an attempt to quash the growing resistance there, particularly in the cities of Jenin and Nablus.
It also comes during a period of strained relations between Russia and Israel over the latter’s support for Ukraine in the ongoing war between Moscow and Kiev. According to recent reports, Israel recently approved the export license for the provision of anti-drone systems to Ukraine.
At the start of the year, the Ukrainian ambassador to Israel, Yevgeny Korniychuk, announced that Israel would be supplying Ukraine with missile warning systems. Additionally, Israeli military vehicles were spotted on the Ukrainian battlefield in November last year.
Despite this, Israel has been cautious about officially providing direct assistance to Kiev in order to avoid an issue with Russia, as Moscow has summoned its Israeli ambassador a number of times over support for Ukraine and has even warned of ‘retaliatory measures.’
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on 16 March that Israel will not give Ukraine military support due to agreements between Tel Aviv and Moscow in regard to Syria, and that Israel has been focusing mainly on the provision of humanitarian and defensive assistance to Ukraine.
“I must say quite frankly that we are facing a complex situation … Israeli pilots and Russian pilots are flying within spitting distance of each other over the skies of Syria,” Netanyahu said, suggesting that support for Ukraine could potentially place Israeli jets in Syria within the Russian line of fire.
This echoes the comments made by his predecessor, Yair Lapid, last year.
“We condemned the invasion, sent a field hospital to Ukraine, but we must prevent the possibility that one Israeli pilot will be shot down in Syria and taken prisoner … Think what this will do to Israeli society,” Lapid said in March last year.
This is the second visit by a Hamas delegation to Moscow since September last year. By hosting members of the resistance faction, many agree that Russia is sending a message to Israel.
Last year, Russia’s foreign minister said: “There was a poorly camouflaged attempt to take advantage of the situation in Ukraine to distract the international community’s attention from one of the oldest unsettled conflicts – the Palestinian-Israeli one.”