Russian President Vladimir Putin and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met on Monday in Moscow to discuss issues ranging from Israeli-Palestinian relations to other Middle Eastern conflicts. It certainly was nothing new for Abbas, who traveled to Russia twice last year to meet with the president.
“It’s now been 10 years since your election as head of Palestine. In that time, you have done a lot of work to stabilize the situation, both domestic, political and economic,” Putin acknowledged. “Those were very difficult years. At the same time, I am glad to say that the relations between Palestine and Russia have developed consistently.” Among praise for Abbas’ work, Putin also reiterated Russia’s support for Palestinian autonomy, although he intends to continue his strong support for and relationship with both the Palestinian authority and Israel.
Other topics discussed related to the Russian-Palestinian relationship included “the expansion of bilateral trade, as well as cooperation on humanitarian and economic issues.” It’s unclear whether Putin intends to give financial assistance to Palestine, but according to President of the Middle East Institute Yevgeny Satanovsky, Russia will not do so.
The meeting is an important signal for the budding relationship between the two leaders, and it will be interesting to see how much this plays a role in the major conflicts in the Middle East. Abbas, along with Chinese President Xi Jinping and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, have confirmed their attendance to Russia’s Victory Day celebrations in Moscow on May 9. This day will mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II; however, the U.S. and many other countries will not attend to show their opposition to Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine last year.
Stephen Morin ’18