A flare-up in the skies above Israel and Syria over the weekend has put a strain on Binyamin Netanyahu’s close ties with Vladimir Putin. The clash also makes it clear that Moscow is the boss when it comes to the Middle East.
Putin’s surprise withdrawal is not only to leverage Assad into constructive peace talks. It is also about creating more options for Russia to influence the direction of the military conflict and political transition as things change both in Russia and on the ground.
There has been much talk about the value, or lack thereof, of dialogue with Russia. But with Western relations with Russia at an all time low, there is a pressing need for new forms of creative dialogue through which to engage with Moscow.
Few will have been surprised by the findings of the Litvinenko Inquiry chaired by Sir Robert Owen. And no one should be surprised by Russia’s reaction. The Russian Foreign Ministry regretted that the inquiry had been ‘politicised’ and the country’s ambassador in London dismissed the findings, criticising the case as a ‘whitewash for British special services’ institutional incompetence’.
By claiming to have deployed a sophisticated air-defence system, Russia may be attempting to force the international coalition to think twice before undertaking air strikes in Syria without consultations with Moscow