Policy Watch: Moscow's Lebanon policy




Katz, Mark N.

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UPI.com (United Press International, Inc.)


"The fighting that erupted between Israel and Hezbollah last month has resulted in Russian officials issuing numerous statements, but not taking much action. These statements consisted of: 1.) Calls for an immediate cease-fire (as many other countries also called for, but not the United States and Israel which hoped for an Israeli defeat of Hezbollah first); 2.) Criticisms of Hezbollah for its kidnapping of the two Israeli soldiers which started the conflict, and also of Israel for undertaking a ""disproportionate"" response against it; 3.) Warnings that the conflict might spread to other countries if it did not end soon; 4.) Denials of Israeli charges that Hezbollah was attacking it with Russian-made missiles that it obtained from Syria (despite mounting evidence that this is indeed what happened); and 5.) Calls for a U.N. Security Council resolution that was ""balanced"" and took into account ""the interests of all sides,"" including those of the Lebanese government and even Hezbollah. There was an apparent difference of opinion within the Russian government over whether Moscow should participate in a U.N. peacekeeping operation in southern Lebanon following a cease-fire. Both Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov and Presidential Aide Sergei Prikhodko indicated that Russia would not contribute soldiers to a peacekeeping force. The Russian Foreign Ministry, though stated that Moscow was ""studying"" or ""considering"" doing just this. Members of the Duma were said to be divided on the issue. The fact that no Russian force contribution to the U.N. peacekeeping mission has been announced suggests that the forces opposed to it have the upper hand in this debate -- for now."


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International affairs, Hezbollah (Lebanon), Israel, Russia