November 3, 2023 | New York Post

Russia’s alarming axis with Iran is in plain view and should stiffen resolve behind Ukraine

November 3, 2023 | New York Post

Russia’s alarming axis with Iran is in plain view and should stiffen resolve behind Ukraine

News that the Wagner Group will provide Hezbollah with sophisticated anti-aircraft weapons should remove any doubt: Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine and Israel’s campaign to evict Hamas from Gaza after its savage Oct. 7 attack are intricately linked.

It’s imperative that we recognize the connection.

The common thread: Vladimir Putin, his deepening alliance with Iran and his backing of foes of the West to advance his own goals — not only in Ukraine but in the Middle East, and elsewhere, as well.

That should make our resolve to see him defeated implacable.

Russia’s latest move: have the Wagner Group, which acts as a mercenary arm of the Kremlin, provide Hezbollah in Lebanon with Pantsir-S1 air-defense systems.

These weapons could potentially be used against US or Israeli aircraft.

This follows a recent visit by senior Hamas leaders to Moscow after their brutal attack on Oct. 7 against Israel.

In theory, that meeting was to discuss the release of Hamas’ hostages.

In fact, it was to provide political support to one of the most dangerous terrorist groups in the Middle East.

The Kremlin’s support for Middle East terrorists actually goes back decades.

During the Cold War, the Soviet Union provided military aid to Israel’s enemies, like Egypt and Syria.

It supported factions of the Palestinian Liberation Organization and trained its terrorists.

More recently, Russia has helped Hezbollah evade US sanctions.

During the past decade, Putin’s regime regularly hosted senior Hamas representatives.

These meetings were always political theater, allowing the Kremlin to pressure Israel by hosting a terror group that seeks Israel’s destruction.

In truth, Russia has much more in common with terrorists like Hamas than with a pro-Western democracy like Israel.

As Hamas did in its Oct. 7 rampage against innocent civilians in Israel, Russia regularly employs  sexual violence as a weapon of war, indiscriminately massacres civilians and  steals children from their homes in Ukraine.

The optics of Hamas’ visit were not lost on the Israeli government.

“We completely condemn the invitation for Hamas to visit Moscow,” said Israeli government spokesman Eylon Levy.

“We view this as an act of support for terrorism — an act that legitimizes their atrocities.” 

For Putin, this is precisely the point.

The new aid to Hezbollah comes amid increasing ties between Moscow and Tehran, which has been providing drones and other supplies for Putin’s Ukraine war.

That axis ought to alarm the West.

At the same time, in Israel’s current war of self-defense, Putin has continued to play his two-sided game. It’s a very old trick.

As he wages war in Ukraine war and boosts support for Iran and its terrorist proxies, he aims to present himself as an international mediator and peacemaker.

To avoid conflict, he pretends, the West must negotiate with him.

Ignore that gambit.

For almost two decades, going back to at least 2006, Putin and his officials have continuously supported agents of chaos in the Middle East and rolled out the red carpet for them.

Now he’s ramping up his alliance with Iran, a clear-cut US enemy that’s behind the Oct. 7 massacre, aims to eliminate America’s ally, Israel, and still considers us the Great Satan.

This serves his ultimate goal: to win in Ukraine.

It also ups the price of any US presence in the Middle East.

He believes he can get an edge in Ukraine by forcing the West into the false choice of supporting Israel instead of Kyiv.

Indeed, Congress is already questioning whether America can support both.

We can.

And we must.

It’s past time the West stop playing along with Putin’s two-faced games.

He is not a good-faith powerbroker but a maker of war.

And he is fomenting turmoil in the Middle East to advance his goals — there, in Ukraine and beyond.

We must help Israel win against the brutal terrorists it faces in Gaza, and one way to do so is to make sure he loses in Ukraine.

Assisting the besieged Ukrainians is not charity.

It’s in our national security interest.

Peter Doran is a Senior Adjunct Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Ivana Stradner is a Research Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.


Hezbollah Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran-backed Terrorism Israel Israel at War Russia Ukraine