Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov spoke Monday with representatives from Hamas and other Palestinian factions, demanding the terror group release the hostages it still holds in Gaza.
According to Russia’s state-owned TASS news agency, Bogdanov spoke with Hamas deputy politburo chairman Moussa Abu Marzouk, secretary general of the Palestinian Democratic Union Saleh Rafat, and senior Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine official Maher Taher.
“During the conversations, a set of issues related to the sharp escalation of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict was discussed, with an emphasis on the emerging military and humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip,” Russia’s foreign ministry said in a statement about the talks, according to TASS.
“At the same time, the Russian side confirmed the principled position on the need for a cessation of hostilities and an immediate solution to all emerging humanitarian problems, including the release of hostages,” the statement added.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin for close to an hour, criticizing Moscow’s alliance with Iran and expressing dissatisfaction with its stance on Israel’s war with Hamas.
The call was the first time that the two leaders have spoken since mid-October, amid rapidly cooling ties between Jerusalem and Moscow.
Since war erupted on October 7, Russia has regularly criticized Israel and urged a ceasefire, backing a UN Security Council resolution that made no mention of Hamas.
Russia has also pursued a closer relationship with Iran, which has become a key ally as Moscow seeks support for its invasion of Ukraine.
Israel had offered only relatively modest support for Kyiv since that war started in February 2022 in a bid to safeguard its relationship with Russia, but Jerusalem and Moscow have nonetheless grown increasingly apart.
In late October, Moscow hosted a Hamas delegation for meetings at which Kremlin officials expressed support for its positions, further straining Russia’s already frayed ties with Israel.
During a weeklong truce between Israel and Hamas in late November, the terror group freed Roni Krivoi, an Israeli-Russian dual citizen, as a gesture to Putin.
He was released alongside an additional 80 Israeli women and children and 24 foreign nationals. An estimated 138 people still remain captive in Gaza, and in recent days the IDF has confirmed 18 of them have been killed and that Hamas is holding their bodies.
Israel’s war with Hamas began with the terror group’s shock onslaught on October 7 in which thousands of terrorists burst into southern Israel from the land, air and sea, killing more than 1,200 people, most of them civilians slaughtered in their homes, communities and at a music festival, and seizing some 240 hostages.
In response, Israel launched an aerial campaign and subsequent ground operation through which the country has vowed to topple Hamas and end the terror group’s 16-year rule in the Strip.
The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza has claimed that since the start of the war, around 18,000 people have been killed, mostly civilians. However, these figures cannot be independently verified and are believed to include some 7,000 Hamas terrorists, as well as civilians killed by misfired Palestinian rockets.