November 21, 2023

Russia Is the Loser in the Israel-Hamas War

In the fall of 2012, I took part in an open discussion at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow on Russia’s role in the Middle East. In her presentation, an experienced American diplomat focused on how Russia was a spent force that would never be able to recapture the Soviet Union’s prominence in the region. With few dissenting voices, the discussion was remarkable for how off-base it was: It was exactly then that Moscow was starting to reemerge as a major player in Syria and across the entire region.

Whereas Russia was central to the discussions around the Syrian civil war a decade ago, the future trajectory of the Middle East is likely to emerge from the Gaza crisis without any significant input from Moscow.

Today, Russia’s influence in the Middle East is at another inflection point. Hobbled by its disastrous invasion of Ukraine, Russia’s declining relevance in the region has been thrown into sharp relief by Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel. Whereas Moscow was central to the diplomacy surrounding the civil war in Syria 10 years ago, Russia’s push in the U.N. Security Council for a cease-fire in Gaza gained little traction. The contrast is emblematic for the end of Moscow’s decade-long comeback in the region.

Read the full article from Foreign Policy.

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