Coronavirus, Putin and the Middle East

President Putin’s regime was more or less able to survive the sanctions for the annexation of Crimea and the war in the Ukrainian Donbass, the multimillion-dollar spending on supporting Assad in Syria and propaganda of domestic hatred towards the democratic opposition, but coronavirus and low oil prices may not survive. And if he survives, it will take him years to build up strength, as it has been the last 10 years.

All that the West could not do “useful” for Russia was done by a pandemic and the Saudis. On the one hand, the Russian authorities underestimated the influence of coronavirus on the global economy, and therefore on reducing energy costs, on the other hand, Saudi Arabia, which, being the main participant in OPEC, is tired of being neglected by top managers of the Russian gas monopolists. As a result, the Kremlin got a real oil war – when the Saudis not only did not reduce oil production, but decided to dump, squeezing Russia out of its traditional markets.

In recent days, Vladimir Putin has spoken to US President Donald Trump four times — usually for such a number of conversations, months, if not years, would have to take. Putin actually admitted that he had lost all opportunity to negotiate with the Saudis and was forced to ask Trump for mediation — although at first he refused to even admit the very fact of the conversation with the Saudi crown prince, which took place after the American president had two opponents!

With the ongoing political crisis in Israel, pressure on Russia from Saudi Arabia and the West is also beneficial to Jerusalem. Indeed, the more Putin has economic problems in Russia, the less he will have the desire to finance military supplies to Syria and destabilize the situation in the Middle East. Do not forget that Russia does not recognize Palestinian groups, such as Hamas, as terrorists and actively votes for anti-Israeli resolutions at the UN.

In a pandemic, chaos on world exchanges and the lowest oil prices over the past 20 years, Israelis have time to painlessly overcome the political crisis within the country, because Russia and Iran now do not have “free” money to further escalate conflicts in the Middle East.

About the Author
Ukrainian political scientist, author of articles and blogs in Ukraine, Russia and Israel
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