Netanyahu and Putin Speak, and Offer Different Versions of What Was Said

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia spoke by telephone on Sunday for the first time in weeks, offering sharply different accounts of what was said in a reflection of the strained relationship between the two leaders since the outbreak of war between Israel and Hamas.

Mr. Netanyahu said he was dissatisfied with positions Moscow had adopted at the United Nations Security Council and “expressed sharp criticism of the dangerous cooperation between Russia and Iran,” according to a statement from his office.

For its part, the Kremlin said that the focus of the conversation was on the “catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip.”

Russia, a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, on Friday backed a United Nations resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire in the Gaza Strip and said the United States was “complicit in Israel’s brutal massacre,” an apparent reference to the more than 17,000 people who the Gazan health authorities say have been killed in the enclave since the war began. The United States blocked the resolution, arguing that Israel has the right to defend itself against attacks by Hamas.

Mr. Netanyahu’s criticism of Russia over its ties with Iran is, in part, a reference to the close relationship between the two countries fostered by the war in Ukraine. Tehran, a principal backer of Hamas, has supplied Moscow with thousands of exploding drones for use in Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Mr. Putin has called the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel a terrorist act — and he reiterated that position during the call on Sunday, the Kremlin said. While his support for Israel was initially muted, he has tried to preserve working ties with the country.

At the same time, Mr. Putin has argued that the dominance of Western elites allowed for the crisis to happen in the first place. And state media in Russia has voiced support for Hamas and undercut Israel. It has also denigrated the United States, Israel’s main ally.

“The Russian side is ready to provide all possible assistance to alleviate the suffering of civilians and de-escalate the conflict,” the Kremlin said in its statement on the leaders’ conversation.

Underscoring the layered nature of the relationship between the two leaders, Mr. Netanyahu also praised Russian efforts to free an Israeli citizen who also has Russian citizenship from captivity in Gaza. Israeli authorities say that the attack led by Hamas on Oct. 7 killed around 1,200 people and around 240 people were also taken hostage.

Related Articles

Back to top button