Home Top Stories Ukraine war live updates: Russia says it’s ‘extremely concerned’ about Middle East crisis — but has no plans to call Israel

Ukraine war live updates: Russia says it’s ‘extremely concerned’ about Middle East crisis — but has no plans to call Israel

Ukraine war live updates: Russia says it’s ‘extremely concerned’ about Middle East crisis — but has no plans to call Israel


Kyiv says Russia is planning disinformation campaign to discredit it in the Middle East

Kyiv’s Saint Sophia Cathedral.

Joern Pollex | Getty Images Sport | Getty Images

Kyiv said Russia is planning to launch a disinformation campaign to discredit Ukraine in the Middle East, claiming Moscow was planning to allege that Ukraine had supplied Western-supplied weapons to Hamas militants.

“The special operations units of Russia are conducting a campaign to discredit Ukraine in the Middle East,” Ukraine’s main intelligence department said on Telegram Monday. It said Russia was looking to exploit the Palestinian militant group Hamas’ attack against Israel in order to undermine Ukraine.

The intelligence department claimed that the Russian army had given Hamas “trophy weapons manufactured in the USA and EU states, that were captured during the hostilities in Ukraine.”

“The next step, according to the plan of the Russians, should be fake accusations [involving] the Ukrainian military in the alleged sale of Western weapons to terrorists on a regular basis.”

“As part of the Kremlin’s disinformation campaign, these fakes should form the basis of a number of ‘revealing publications’ and ‘investigations’ in the Western media,” the intelligence department added.

It did not provide evidence for its claims and CNBC was unable to verify the information.

Ukraine said Russia “aimed at discrediting the Armed Forces of Ukraine and [encouraging] the complete cessation of military aid to our country from Western partners.”

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday, having offered his support and condolences for those killed in deadly attacks that erupted in the country after Hamas launched an audacious and large-scale attack on Saturday.

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukraine’s Zelenskyy criticizes Iran’s role in Ukraine and Israel conflicts

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Monday linked the assault by Hamas on Israel with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and criticized Iran over both conflicts.

Israel was caught off guard on Saturday when the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas launched a devastating attack.

“The only difference is that there is a terrorist organization that attacked Israel and here is a terrorist state that attacked Ukraine. The intentions declared are different, but the essence is the same,” Zelenskyy told NATO’s Parliamentary Assembly in Copenhagen via video link.

Iran has denied it has supplied Russia with Shahed kamikaze drones for use in Ukraine and has said it is not involved in the weekend’s attacks on Israel. Ukraine said about 1,000 Iranian-designed Shahed drones were used by Russia over the past six months.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi greets Russian President Vladimir Putin on July 19, 2022. Putin likely wanted to show that Moscow is still important in the Middle East by visiting Iran, said John Drennan of the U.S. Institute of Peace.

Sergei Savostyanov | AFP | Getty Images

“Iran can’t say it has nothing to do with what is going on in Ukraine if it sells Shaheds (drones) to Russia. Iran can’t say it has nothing to do with what is going on in Israel, if its officials claim the support of what is going on in Israel,” Zelenskyy said.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said there was no evidence Iran was behind the latest attacks on Israel but he said there are long standing ties between Tehran and Hamas.

Zelenskyy urged Western unity in the face of global events. “This is not the time to withdraw from the international arena into internal disputes. This is not the time to isolate ourselves. This is not the time to remain silent or pretend that the terror on one continent does not affect global affairs,” Zelenskyy said.

— Reuters

Kremlin ‘extremely concerned’ about Israel crisis, but has no plans to call Middle Eastern leaders

Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Mikhail Klimentyev | Sputnik | Via Reuters

The Kremlin said Monday that the conflict between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas posed “a very great danger for the region,” but said Russian President Vladimir Putin has no calls scheduled with Middle Eastern leadership.

Presidential Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov commented Monday that the Kremlin had little to add to a Russian Foreign Ministry statement made on Saturday, in which Russia called for a cease-fire and blamed the West for failing to tackle long-term tensions between the Israeli and Palestinian authorities.

Nonetheless, Peskov said the Kremlin was “extremely concerned” by the violence.

“We believe that it is necessary to bring this situation into a peaceful direction as soon as possible, because the continuation of such a round of violence, of course, is fraught with further escalation and growth of this conflict. This is a great danger for the region, so we are extremely concerned,” Peskov said, according to comments published by Tass news agency.

Peskov said Putin does not yet plan to contact Israeli or Palestinian officials.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russia-Iran ties likely to deepen further as sanctions unite them

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has accelerated its partnership with Iran, with ties likely to continue to deepen as both states seek to mitigate Western sanctions, Britain’s Ministry of Defense said Monday.

“International isolation has forced Russia to redirect its foreign policy efforts towards previously less-desirable partnerships to gain diplomatic, economic and military support,” the U.K. noted in an intelligence update on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“Iran recently claimed that Russia had invested $2.76 billion into Iran in 2022-23. Economic ties are highly likely to deepen as Russia seeks to mitigate sanctions,” it added.

Two State Emergency Service employees look at a response effort to the Russian drone strike at industrial warehouses in Lviv, western Ukraine.

Ukrinform | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Iranian military aid to Russia’s campaign in Ukraine has included thousands of “one-way attack uncrewed aerial vehicles” that have become a core element of Russia’s long-range strikes into Ukraine, and artillery munitions.

“This arrangement has now been extended to include assembling and production of these UAVs, under licence, in a facility in Russia,” the U.K. noted, adding that “Russo-Iranian diplomatic and economic ties have also intensified.”

Russia’s engagement with Iran through multinational forums will almost certainly increase following Iran’s recent admission into the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, and its invitation to join the economic BRICS grouping, the ministry said.

— Holly Ellyatt

Kremlin already trying to exploit Hamas-Israeli conflict, analysts say

Russia is likely to try to use the eruption of violence in Israel to distract from its operations in Ukraine, analysts at the Institute for the Study of War noted in analysis on Saturday.

“The Kremlin is already and will likely continue to exploit the Hamas attacks in Israel to advance several information operations intended to reduce U.S. and Western support and attention to Ukraine,” the ISW said.

A New Year decoration stylized as the “Kremlin Star,” a tactical insignia of Russian troops in Ukraine, in Moscow, on Jan. 2, 2023.

Natalia Kolesnikova | Afp | Getty Images

Noting that the Kremlin had already amplified several information operations after Hamas’ attacks in Israel on Saturday — primarily blaming the West for neglecting conflicts in the Middle East in favor of supporting Ukraine — the ISW said Russia was claiming the international community will cease to pay attention to Ukraine.

Deputy Chairman of the Russian Security Council Dmitry Medvedev claimed on X, formerly known as Twitter, that the U.S. and its allies should have been “busy with” working on “Palestinian-Israeli settlement” rather than “interfering” with Russia and providing Ukraine with military aid.

Meanwhile, Russia’s Foreign Ministry accused the West of creating the basis for the current violence, saying it was a “direct consequence of the chronic failure to comply with the relevant resolutions of the UN and its Security Council and the actual blocking by the West of the work of the Middle East “quartet” of international mediators consisting of Russia, the USA, the EU and the UN.”

The ISW also noted that a prominent Russian propagandist Sergei Mardan stated on Telegram that Russia will benefit from the escalation as the world “will take its mind off Ukraine for a while and get busy once again putting out the eternal fire in the Middle East.”

Commenting on the emergence of such narratives, the ISW said “these Kremlin narratives target Western audiences to drive a wedge in military support for Ukraine, seek to demoralize Ukrainian society by claiming Ukraine will lose international support, and intend to reassure Russian domestic audiences that the international society will ignore Ukraine’s war effort.”

— Holly Ellyatt

Russia calls for ‘immediate ceasefire’ as violence flares in Israel

Russia called on Israel and Palestinian forces to reach an “immediate ceasefire” after violence flared on Saturday.

Russia’s foreign ministry said Moscow “is gravely concerned over a sharp escalation of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.”

“We call on the Palestinian and Israeli sides to implement an immediate ceasefire, renounce violence, exercise the necessary restraint and establish, with the assistance of the international community, a negotiation process aimed at establishing a comprehensive, lasting and long-awaited peace in the Middle East,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said in a statement.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during their meeting at the Kremlin on April 21, 2016.

Mikhail Svetlov | Getty Images

Moscow has traditionally trodden a fine diplomatic line between its oil-producing Arab allies and Israel.

On Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is due to hold talks in Moscow with Ahmed Aboul Gheit, the secretary-general of the League of Arab States. 

“Russia and the Arab League have a busy agenda, but given the dramatic escalation of the Arab-Israeli conflict, this topic will be given priority attention,” Zakharova said on Telegram Monday.

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukraine offers support to Israel, says it favors joint action

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Kyiv would support Israel as it fought an unprecedented incursion by the Hamas militant group.

“It is very important that the whole world – the whole of it – does not stand aside from what has happened now and responds in the most principled way possible,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly address Sunday.

Zelenskyy said he spoke to his Israeli counterpart Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and extended his condolences over hundreds of casualties so far in the bloody conflict that erupted over the weekend. Two Ukrainians are known to have died in the fighting.

A missile explodes in Gaza City during an Israeli airstrike on Oct. 8, 2023.

Mahmud Hams | AFP | Getty Images

“There is all the necessary cooperation between the Ukrainian Embassy and the Israeli police to find out the details about Ukrainians who found themselves in the areas of hostilities and shelling. Unfortunately, the deaths of two Ukrainian citizens have been confirmed,” Zelenskyy said.

Zelenskyy said the audacity of the attack had been shocking and said that “if terrorists can afford it, it means they are a threat not just to one country.”

He said Ukraine “will work together with our partners to ensure the unity of the world in the fight against terror. Various international events have already been planned. As always, the Ukrainian position will be in favor of unity and joint action.”

— Holly Ellyatt


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