Russian “Aid” to the Middle East

Throughout April, many experts claimed that a new outbreak of coronavirus had “flared up” in the European part of Russia. And if at the beginning of April few people believed in it, claiming that everything was under control, now no one denies that Moscow has become the new center of the pandemic. By the number of cases, Russia “overtook” China, Iran and Turkey. Today in the regions of Russia, and even in the capital itself, they complain about the lack of beds, protective equipment, ventilation devices, quarantine and fines. But at the end of March, Moscow actively promoted the massive assistance it provided in the fight against coronavirus to both the West and the East, especially the Middle East.

Soon it became clear the background of a large-scale advertising campaign to provide Russian assistance to various countries affected by the virus. It was carried out in order to set a precedent. On March 26, Russia, China, Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Nicaragua and North Korea appealed to the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to help ease the sanctions impeding the fight against COVID-19.

But the plan failed and the sanctions were not lifted, including from Russia. And along with the lowest oil prices, it hurts the budget and the “power” of the Putin regime.

Ivan Timofeev, program director of the Russian Council on Foreign Affairs, immediately defended the Kremlin, calling the sanctions “a political order and pressure on Russia,” forgetting the annexation of Crimea, eastern Donbass, and support for the Syrian regime.

In early April, Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin, discussed the pandemic with a number of Middle East leaders. April 1, Putin spoke with Turkish President Recep Erdogan about joint action to combat the pandemic. April 6 about the same thing – with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. On April 7, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov spoke by telephone with Ismail Khania, head of the Hamas political bureau. According to observers, Moscow’s participation is aimed at strengthening Russia’s position in the region by providing humanitarian assistance and creating an image of “caring power”.

All this reminds the Soviet Union with its “care” for fraternal Afghan, Angolan, Syrian and other peoples. The help that was rendered at all not for reasons of humanism, but in the hope of building socialism in them according to the Soviet model. But later the Soviet Union fell apart, the debts of these countries were written off, as, in fact, socialism itself. Whether Vladimir Putin is afraid of a repetition of this scenario for modern Russia, we will see it very soon!

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