Russia Escalates Diplomatic Push With Hamas To Release Hostages

( – Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov demanded the release of hostages held by Hamas and other Islamist groups in Gaza in a phone call with the group’s representatives. The calls followed meetings between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Middle Eastern leaders in early December.

A statement from the Foreign Ministry said Moscow confirmed its commitment to pursue a cessation of hostilities in the Middle East war and “urgently resolve all humanitarian problems that have arisen, including the release of hostages.” It was unclear whether Russia sought the release of all captives or just those with Russian citizenship.

Mr. Bogdanov delivered the message to several groups, including the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), the Palestinian Democratic Union, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and Hamas, and emphasized its support for a separate Palestinian state alongside Israel.

Russian President Putin visited countries in the region in December and met with United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan who referred to the Russian as a “good friend.” He later released a statement saying the two leaders discussed future energy production and technology cooperation.

Mr. Putin later traveled to Saudi Arabia and met its leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud. It is believed they also discussed energy and the potential for oil price increases resulting from the regional conflict.

Perhaps most worryingly for the West, Putin also held talks with Iranian leader Ebrahim Raisi on December 7. A Kremlin spokesperson said the two talked for hours about the situation in the Middle East, oil, and “the bilateral ties of the extremely multifaceted partnership.”

The US government, concerned about deepening ties between Moscow and Tehran, claims Iran is providing Russia with military support for its ongoing war with Ukraine. It is also known that Iran is the primary backer of Hamas, Hezbollah, and other Islamic militant groups that increasingly launch missile and rocket attacks at Israeli and US military installations in the Middle East.

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