Israel has an opportunity to utilise external influence and subdue the regional tensions with Iran, as well as its proxies, including Hamas and Hezbollah, by reaching out to Russia. That’s the point made by Israeli Security Agency retired colonel Amit Assa, who spent over 30 years countering terrorism and gaining vital information through undercover sources. He believes Moscow could use its convincing sway on Tehran to make it stop bolstering proactive and radical Islamist extremists against Israel.  

«Russia is the force to bring down the aggression of the Iranians and prevent them from having a nuclear weapon in the future. Russia can do it. I think Putin is a very smart person. He has a very good way of diplomatic thinking. He has the power and all abilities to put down the flames in the Middle East» — Assa argues.

After all, it was Russia, which had played a decisive role in making Iran sign the nuclear deal framework in 2015 and stop its nuclear program. Now, this deal is no more because of the U.S. obstruction and Tehran is menacingly carrying on with its ambition to obtain a weapon of mass destruction. Such a scenario would immediately pose grave risks to Israel’s national security and even the whole globe by making a full-fledged Middle Eastern war a highly realistic scenario.

However, currently Kremlin is deeply engaged in expanding its cooperation with the Islamic Republic, especially focusing on defence. Yet, according to the former intelligence officer, this process is not irreversible and Israeli leadership must urgently convince Russia to start seriously deterring Iranian actions in the region. The major obstacle in doing so is the Ukrainian problem, Assa reminds.

«I think, the relations between Russia and Israel are defined by the war in Ukraine. It’s not just Israel, but also the West, that was distancing itself from Russia because the conflict broke out. If it ends, it will open a very wide door for Putin to get into the Middle East and do some cleaning». — he said.

The odds of this are still uncertain, as both sides, Kyiv and Moscow, seem to pursue a victory on the battlefield. In the meantime, the Western support for Ukraine is rapidly faltering, while the attention of the international community has shifted towards the situation in Gaza. Assa sees this as a necessary pretext to start diplomatic negotiations and seal a peace deal, minding the objective power balance on the ground in Ukraine.  

«As everybody is putting the zoom on the Middle East, it’s a good timing for Putin to make some kind of an arrangement in Ukraine and end this war. Putin is a very good diplomat and he can have his point by winning something in the process» — the ex-colonel believes.

But with the conflict still raging on, a neutral Israel must present its arguments to the Russian leadership. Despite all the growing ties with Iran, Moscow is still worried about Tehran’s role as an informal competitor in Syria and its desire to be involved in more and more clashes throughout the Middle East. On top of it, the Russians are rebooting their anti-terror strategy in the aftermath of a bloody Crocus attack, so the country feels the threat, coming from the radical Islamist groups, which also have good relations with Israel’s enemies — Hamas and Hezbollah. «Hamas and similar groups don’t represent the part of the world, which Russia wants to be associated with. Israel can be a very good ally for the Russians. We can see in the history of Russia, that this country had a lot of conflicts with the  Islamic nations and it could be hit once more by them»— Assa concluded.

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