Russian President Vladimir Putin has voiced concern at the “catastrophic increase” in the number of civilians killed in Israel and the Gaza Strip amid days of fighting between Hamas and the Israeli military.
The Russian leader also took aim on Tuesday at Washington’s policy in the Middle East, which he said had failed by not taking the needs of Palestinians into account.
Putin, whose military has been accused of killing thousands of civilians since its full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year, expressed his concern for civilians killed in Israel and Gaza during a phone call with Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Kremlin said in a statement.
The “emphasis was placed on the sharply worsening situation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict zone”, the Kremlin said of the leaders’ discussion.
“Deep concern was expressed about the continuing escalation of violence and the catastrophic increase in the number of civilian casualties,” the Kremlin said.
The two leaders reiterated the need for “an immediate ceasefire” and for “the resumption of the negotiation process“, the Kremlin added, saying that Erdogan noted it was “regrettable to target civilian installations and that Turkey doesn’t welcome such acts”.
Earlier on Tuesday, Putin called the creation of a Palestinian state “necessary” and blamed the latest explosion of violence on US policy in the region.
“I think that many people will agree with me that this is a vivid example of the failure of United States policy in the Middle East,” Putin said at the start of a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed al-Sudani on Tuesday.
Putin said Washington had sought to “monopolise” efforts at forging peace between Israel and Palestinians, and he accused the US of not bothering to seek compromises acceptable to both sides but instead had pushed its own ideas for a solution to the conflict.
The US had ignored the interests of Palestinians, including their need for their own independent state.
Putin made no mention of Russia’s role in the Middle East peace process. Along with the US, the United Nations and the European Union, Moscow has since 2002 formed part of a “Quartet” of powers charged with helping to mediate Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
Putin’s spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, said the Kremlin was in touch with both warring sides in Israel and Gaza and would seek to play a role in resolving the conflict. Peskov did not specify how that would be achieved.
“We intend to keep making efforts and play our role in terms of providing assistance to seek ways to a settlement,” he said.
Since the latest crisis erupted, the Kremlin has sought to appear even-handed, underscoring its relations with both Israelis and Palestinians.
Moscow has longstanding ties with the Palestinians, including Hamas, which sent a delegation to Moscow in March. But it also has “a lot in common” with Israel, including the fact that many Israelis are former Russian citizens, Peskov said.
Peskov also warned that the current violence was “more than worrying”.
“It has the potential to be dangerous by growing and spilling over from the current zone of the Arab-Israeli conflict,” he said.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that it was ready to help reach a settlement between Israel and Palestinians by coordinating regional players.
“We are in close contact with the leading regional players, whose role in stabilising the situation and creating conditions for establishing direct Palestinian-Israeli dialogue is indispensable,” ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said, according to Russia’s state-run TASS news agency.