Thu Jul 11, 2024
July 11, 2024

The Close Relations between Putin and Zionism

In the face of the great worldwide repudiation that Israel and Zionism have generated by their genocidal aggression against Gaza, some sectors have tried to show that Putin is opposed to Zionism and supports the Palestinian struggle. The reality is quite different.

First of all, it is necessary to recall some historical elements. In 1947, when the UN “decreed” the creation of the State of Israel, the representative of the former Soviet Union (USSR, ruled by the Stalinist bureaucracy) voted together with the imperialist powers (USA, Great Britain, France). Worse, the so-called “Soviet bloc” sent arms to the Zionist Haganah militia, which were used in the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. This policy was opposed to that of Lenin, who harshly fought the Zionist current, just as it was opposed to the views of the Trotskyists of the Fourth International, who were always against the creation of the State of Israel and supported the Palestinian struggle.

After Stalin’s death, and in the framework of the so-called Cold War, the Stalinist bureaucracy changed its politics. It began to establish close relations with the bourgeois nationalist leaderships emerging in the Arab world and fighting Israel (for example, in Egypt, Syria, Iraq, the PLO, etc.). In this framework, it always acted as a “moderator” to prevent these processes from overflowing the state and the capitalist system and advancing towards socialism.

When capitalism was restored, and the USSR dissolved (at the beginning of the 1990s), a period of great political instability opened up in Russia—this period ended when Putin’s faction of bourgeois oligarchs gained an iron grip on power. An important step toward this was the counter-revolutionary war, in which he defeated the separatist forces of the small Republic of Chechnya (with a large Muslim majority)[1].

From there, Putin developed a policy of increasingly closer relations with Zionism and Israel. An example of this was the agreement he made with the government of Ariel Sharon (then Prime Minister of Israel) in the first years of the 21st century to encourage the immigration of Russian Jews to Israel, who, by the Law of Return in force in this country, automatically became Israeli citizens.

Thousands of Jews of Russian origin settled in Israel, and the number continued to increase every year. Today, it is estimated that there are about one million [2]. These immigrants have received great benefits from the Zionist state, such as land and property stolen from the Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem (the “Jewish settlers”). Therefore, they have become the front line in the defense of Israel and have been in large part responsible for the agressions against Palestinians in those places. Politically, they tend to support and vote for the far right-wing Yisrael Beteniu party, founded and headed by Avigdor Lieberman, a traditional ally of Netanyahu and minister in his government [3].

In 2007, Russia and Israel signed a “visa exemption” agreement so that citizens of each country could travel to the other without any requirement. This is something that, at the international level, only occurs between “very friendly” countries with very close relations[4].

“We Support Israel”

From then on, the Putin regime began to consider Israel as part of the “Russian world.” In 2011, Putin declared, “Israel is, in fact, a special state for us. It is practically a Russian-speaking country. […] Russian-speaking Israeli citizens are my compatriots and part of the ‘Russian world'” [5].

In this framework, this regime has always defended Israel against the Palestinian struggle and resistance. In 2006, after Hamas had taken control of the Gaza Strip, a member of the official Russian delegation visiting Israel declared: “Russia will never allow any kind of violence against Israel” [6].

In 2014, amid Israel’s bloody attack on Gaza, Putin declared that he “supported Israel’s battle to keep its citizens safe.”[7] 

Economic, Technological, and Military Ties

These close relations between the Putin regime and the Zionist state are evidenced in the economic ties between the two countries. Since 2016, Russia has been the largest supplier of raw oil to Israel (via Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan)[8]. Israel has no oil of its own, so its military and aggression machine against the Palestinians functions thanks to the oil supplied by Putin.

Israel pays with weapons, general and nuclear technology. In the technological field, there are joint projects in nanotechnology through the Russian Rusnano project, which has installed a branch in Israel [9]. Other projects are being developed by the Skolkovo center based in Moscow with a branch in Israel [10].

Between the weapons Israel delivers to Russia, there are modern drones, some of which have been used against Ukraine, like the one that was shot down near the city of Donetsk in 2015[11].

As part of these close relations, Putin and Netanyahu have established an “encrypted telephone line” to speak directly in private when necessary [12].

Putin’s Reasons

The IWL understands Russia to be a weak imperialist country at present and Putin’s regime as seeking to consolidate a regional space of domination over other countries, taking advantage of the attrition of U.S. imperialism. This generates disputes between both countries, such as the one now expressed in the war in Ukraine.

Putin’s regime is part of the world counterrevolution and, within that framework, acts according to its needs. Close relations with Israel and Zionism are beneficial to it. On the one hand, as we have seen, this is expressed in economic relations and technological development (a field in which Israel is more advanced). On the other hand, Israel’s role helps to keep “under control” an explosive region (the Arab and Muslim world, which is also present in republics under Russian influence).

At the same time, it “plays both sides” as it maintains close relations with countries such as Iran, which has a strong regional dispute with Israel (it is the leading international supporter of Hamas). Completing the picture, Iran also provides Russia with drones, which it uses in Ukraine [13].

The interests and policies of the U.S. and Russia towards Israel are different. U.S. imperialism is the main backer of the Zionist state, without which it could not survive. As we have seen, Russia has more contradictory interests, so its policy is “two-pronged.”

But the truth is that Putin is today one of the backers of Zionism in its permanent aggression against the Palestinian people, which is currently unfolding with its genocidal invasion of Gaza.

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