Vladimir Putin ‘willing to exploit Israel-Palestine conflict’ to crush West

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Russia is ready and willing to exploit the conflict in the Middle East in order to crush the West, Express.co.uk was told. It comes as Israel and Palestine enter the fourth day of a ceasefire called last week. The truce held despite skirmishes that broke out in Jerusalem shortly afterwards.

Eleven days of violence and bloodshed saw more than 250 people killed, most of whom lived in the Gaza Strip.

World leaders rushed to call for an end to the clashes, some more vehemently than others.

The Diplomat noted that “Russia and China seem to be pursuing a more neutral stance on the conflict”.

Moscow called on both parties to “de-escalate tensions and peacefully resolve the emerging issues”, with China’s position largely similar.

Many claim Russia is increasingly willing to calculate what it might gain from geopolitical crises such as the Israel-Palestine conflict, and how it could use the events to claim victory over the West.

Professor Julian Lindley-French, an internationally recognised strategic analyst and advisor in defence, said while Russia had made no move to do so yet, it would be willing to “exploit” the situation if it saw fit.

The veteran analyst has recently co-authored a book, ‘Future War’, exploring how the US and Europe might consolidate their military forces in the face of increasing threats from the likes of Russia and China, as well as handling new and cutting edge techniques of conflict.

When asked what Mr Putin’s role in the recent flare-up of the Israel-Palestine conflict was, Prof Lindley-French said: “He sees it all in terms of geopolitics and his competition with the West and with Europe.

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“Putin has a kind of understanding with Recep Erdogan in Turkey, but it’s only an understanding, it’s not that deep; he’s spoken to Benjamin Netanyahu, and has links in Syria and Tehran.

“But the way that Russia sees this is, if it causes a problem for the Americans and Europe – the West – then it can be exploited.

“The Russians are a spoiler these days, they’re not constrictive, and their whole ethos is a zero sum game with the West.

“If the West is in trouble it must be good for Russia. I call it the Lubyanka Complex, something that was played out in the Cold War with the KGB: that if the West was in trouble, Russia is winning, if Russia is in trouble the West must be winning.”

At the beginning of the conflict’s recent flare-up, Russia appeared to move to declare itself one of the world’s big four powers, calling for a meeting of the Quartet of International Mediators, established in 2002 but long since quiet.

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After a brief talk with United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said: “I think we came to a common conclusion that the most urgent task is calling a meeting of the quartet of international mediators: Russia, the United States, the UN and the European Union.

“And we trust the Secretary-General as the coordinator of the quartet.”

Nothing came of Russia’s suggestion, however.

European powers will be looking to see how far Russia involves itself in Belarus’s affairs after President Alexander Lukashekno was accused of hijacking a Ryanair flight with opposition activist and journalist Roman Protasevich onboard.

Mr Protasevich was taken by Belarusian police and has only been seen in a video link ‘confessing’ to his crimes which analysts claim he was coerced into doing.

The EU has since agreed to ramp up sanctions against Belarus, calling for a ban on Belarusian airlines flying over EU territory.

They also urged EU-based airlines to avoid flying over Belarusian airspace, moves that would be huge financial blows to the country.

It is important to note that Belarus has been under sanctions since 2004.

Russia has close ties to Belarus – the country being a former satellite state of the Soviet Union – although Mr Putin and Mr Lukashenko’s allegiance has been historically shaky.

The country has since defended Belarus, with analysts suggesting Moscow stands to benefit from Belarus’ further estrangement from the West.

Russia described the uproar over the flight being apprehended as “shocking” and accused the West of having double standards.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova wrote on Facebook on Monday: “It is shocking that the West calls the incident in Belarusian airspace ‘shocking’.”

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