Putin says Russia leveraging ties with Hamas political leaders to try and free hostages

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends his annual news conference in Moscow, Russia, Dec. 14, 2023. (Aleksander Kazakov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends his annual news conference in Moscow, Russia, Dec. 14, 2023. (Aleksander Kazakov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

President Vladimir Putin told leaders of Russia’s Jewish community that Moscow had achieved “specific results” in diplomatic efforts to free hostages taken captive by Hamas, Russian news agencies reports.

The agency says Putin made the comments at a meeting with Russia’s chief rabbi, Berl Lazar, and the head of the Federation of Jewish Communities, Alexander Boroda. Putin said Russia had made use of its contacts with the political wing of Hamas.

“You know, since the situation became more tense in the Middle East, Russia has been doing everything to help people who became hostages,” Putin is quoted as saying.

“As is known, our foreign ministry worked through the political wing of Hamas and, on the whole, there have been specific results.”

Putin does not elaborate, according to the reported comments, but indeed one of the hostages released in November — dual Russian-Israeli national Roni Krivoi — was framed as a gesture by the terror group to Putin.

Moscow’s efforts, though directed at helping Russian nationals, also sought to help others, the president said.

A Hamas delegation led by Moussa Abu Marzouk (second from L) meets with Russian deputy foreign minister Mikhail Bogdanov (second from R) in Moscow on January 19, 2024. (Hamas)

“They include elderly people and their family members who survived the Holocaust,” he is quoted as saying.

“But I know, I understand, that it is vital to carry on with these efforts. And that is what we are doing.”

Russia, which has drawn closer to Israel’s arch-rival Iran since the outbreak of the nearly two-year-old Ukraine conflict, has restated its support for Palestinian statehood and criticized Israeli military action in the Gaza Strip.

Moscow also has said the violence in the Middle East is a reflection of US policy failures in the region.

Putin’s reference to Holocaust survivors comes a day after Russia’s foreign ministry told the Israeli ambassador, Simona Halperin, of its “negative reaction” to her criticisms of Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian policy.

Authorities criticized her “unacceptable comments” in an interview with Russian newspaper Kommersant in which she said Lavrov had played down the importance of the Holocaust and that Russia was too friendly with Hamas.

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