Digest of Russian media
The Israel-Hamas War: Russia’s Official and Unofficial Response
November 8, 2023
Since early October, the Russian propaganda has had a new item on its agenda: the conflict between Israel and Hamas. Indeed, it has proven very important – and useful – for the Russian authorities.

On October 7, 2023, Dmitri Medvedev, currently the first deputy chairman of Russia’s Military-Industrial Commission, wrote on his Telegram channel that the Hamas militants’ invasion of southern Israel was an “event that could have been expected” and claimed that the US bore responsibility for it. “What can stop America’s manic passion for igniting conflicts everywhere on the planet? Apparently, only a civil war on US territory,” he wrote.

Russia officially supported Palestine, and according to a statement by Vladimir Putin, this position “has been in place for decades,” not just after the latest escalation of the conflict.

“And this position is well known to both the Israeli side and our friends in Palestine. We have always advocated the implementation of UN Security Council resolutions, primarily referring to the establishment of an independent,sovereign Palestinian state. This is the root of all the problems,” said Putin.

Putin made this statement on October 11, just four days after the outbreak of the latest conflict. Alexander Baunov, a senior researcher at the Carnegie Center in Berlin, believes that the president took a pause so his statement would not sound like support for the Hamas attack on civilians.

“After the September 11, 2001 attacks, Vladimir Putin was the first foreign leader to call President Bush to express condolences. Twenty-two years later, following the Islamist attack on Israel, the most brutal and deadliest in the country’s history, Putin offered condolences only after a noticeable pause and in such terms that they would not be taken as support,” said Baunov.

The narrative of supporting Palestine was predictably adopted by Russian state media.

The prominent Russian propagandists Vladimir Solovyov emphasized on the Russia 1 TV channel that Russia’s actions in Ukraine cannot be compared to Israel’s cruelty.

“I hope the West will be silenced with their statements about the cruelty of the Russian army. If you want to see cruelty, look at how the Israeli army is fighting. If you want to understand the difference between the special military operation and war, see how the Israeli army is now simply destroying Gaza,” Solovyov said.
State media is also spreading the idea that the escalation of the conflict signifies a setback for Ukraine, claiming that the West now prioritizes Israel.
Political analyst and Americanist Malek Dudakov, in a conversation with Lenta.ru, said that if a choice must be made between the two conflicts, the preference would be for supporting Israel, as it is a more established and significant American ally.

“Israel is the priority. Ukraine will be told to cease counteroffensives and spend less,” Dudakov said.

The level of aggression toward Israel has increased among ordinary Russians, too, the most striking example being the anti-Israel riot at the Makhachkala Airport (see Russia.Post about this here and here) .

State media also recalled the 2019 “prophecy” of Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the late leader of the LDPR party, who had speculated about a possible Israeli invasion of Iran. “By 2024, there will be a conflict in the Middle East, and everyone will simply forget what Ukraine is… We are talking about World War III. Because Iran is not like North Korea, Vietnam or Kosovo. The most terrifying events will happen here.”

Leonid Slutsky, the current head of the LDPR and chairman of the Duma Committee on International Affairs, commented on Zhirinovsky’s statement, saying that “Ukraine will be forgotten” because the Middle East conflict will be much rougher, and that “we will wrap up the special military operation in the near future. […I]t will be won. It will be won by us. We will achieve victory.”

Meanwhile, many Russian celebrities who oppose the Russian invasion of Ukraine expressed support for Israel. Among them is the Russian musician and Mashina Vremeni leader Andrey Makarevich.

“I wish good luck to our [Israeli] soldiers and count the hours and days until our victory. Please stay alive,” Makarevich wrote on his Facebook page.

The post was criticized by RT editor in chief Margarita Simonyan. She claimed that it shows that those who left Russia because of the war were simply covering up their “hatred for their homeland” with pacifist slogans.

“As soon as things flared up in Israel, everything disappeared. All this ‘we are for peace,’ ‘no war,’ all the pacifism, everything, just vanished. The principles they were hiding behind,” said Simonyan.

Russian comedian and television presenter Maxim Galkin, who also left Russia due to the war with Ukraine and is currently in Israel, wrote on his Instagram page: “today at 6:30, we woke up to sirens... Difficult times for Israel. Condolences to the victims and their families! We pray for those who are trapped. Israel will prevail!” .

Galkin faced criticism not only from propagandists but also from Instagram users. Some of them called on him to go and fight himself.

“Galkin, take a rifle and go defend your homeland – Israel,” the news outlet RIA Novosti quoted one of the comments under Galkin’s post.
  • Sofia Sorochinskaia

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