Zelensky accuses Putin of backing Hamas; Russian leader calls for Palestinian state

Ukrainian leader blames Moscow for ‘seeking to carry out destabilizing actions all over the world’; Russian president says escalation proves ‘failure’ of US policy in region

A composite image of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskly (left) and Russian President Vladimir Putin, both seen in October 2023. (AFP)
A composite image of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskly (left) and Russian President Vladimir Putin, both seen in October 2023. (AFP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin broke his silence on Tuesday on Hamas’s brutal onslaught against Israel Saturday, voicing concern at the “catastrophic increase” in the number of civilian victims in both Israel and Gaza.

The Russian leader called the creation of a Palestinian state “necessary” and suggested that the new war between Israel and Hamas demonstrated the “failure” of US policy in the Middle East.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, whose nation was brutally invaded by Russia last year, responded by accusing Moscow of supporting Hamas.

“We are certain that Russia is supporting, in one way or another, Hamas operations,” Zelensky said in an interview with the France 2 television channel on Tuesday. “The current crisis… bears witness to the fact that Russia really is seeking to carry out destabilizing actions all over the world.”

Once close allies, relations between Jerusalem and Moscow deteriorated rapidly following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Even as Israel sought to maintain a careful balance in order to continue coordination with Moscow over Syrian airspace, ties soured as Jerusalem shipped humanitarian aid to Ukraine and publicly offered its backing to Kyiv.

Zelensky issued a full-throttled defense of Israel the day of Hamas’s shock invasion of Israeli communities, saying “Israel’s right to defense is indisputable.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky meet on the UN General Assembly sidelines on September 19, 2023. (Avi Ohayon/GPO)

Putin spoke Tuesday with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and “emphasis was placed on the sharply worsening situation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict zone,” the Kremlin said in a statement.

“Deep concern was expressed about the continuing escalation of violence and the catastrophic increase in the number of civilian casualties,” it added. Putin and Erdogan had reiterated the need for “an immediate ceasefire” and for “the resumption of the negotiation process,” according to the Kremlin.

The Turkish presidency also stated the two leaders had discussed “the alarming developments of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the measures to be taken to avoid an escalation.”

Erdogan also said that it was “regrettable to target civilian installations and that Turkey doesn’t welcome such acts.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attends the presentation ceremony of letters of confidence to newly appointed Ambassadors at the Presidential Complex in Ankara, Turkey on September 27, 2023. (Adem Altan/AFP)

Zelensky on Tuesday expressed his concern, however, that the international community was turning away from the war in Ukraine in the face of the “tragedy” that has befallen Israel following the Hamas attacks.

“I don’t wish to make any comparisons. There is a terrible war going on in our country. In Israel, many people have lost their loved ones. These tragedies are different, but both are immense,” he said.

Zelensky warned, however, that “international attention risks turning away from Ukraine, and “that will have consequences.”

“Ukraine’s destiny depends on the unity of the rest of the world. World unity depends very much on the unity of the United States,” said the Ukrainian leader.

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