The Russian Navy’s Plans for the Middle East

On July 31, Vladimir Putin officially adopted a new maritime strategy in the form of a 55-page document made available to the public. The new doctrine is more aggressive than its 2015 predecessor, writes Daniel Rakov, and also gives considerably more attention to the Middle East:

Moscow wants to enhance its ties with Syria, where it has a naval base that ensures a permanent Russian military presence in the Mediterranean. Russia is planning to establish more techno-logistical outposts in the region. Russia has a political role in ensuring Middle Eastern regional stability.

Moreover, Moscow is eager to increase its collaboration with Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq. Russia intends to keep a naval presence in the Persian Gulf “based on techno-logistical outposts in the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean, and to use the infrastructure of the countries of the region for Russian naval military activity.” Russian warships rarely visit the Gulf these days, and Russia lacks permanent bases in the area. It has been unable to persuade the Sudanese government to agree to the long-term lease of a portion of Port Sudan.

In developing its long-term strategy, Israel must consider Russia’s objectives to expand its military footprint and political activities in the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea.

The extensive references to the Middle East in the doctrine are unparalleled in Russian national-security documents, [closing] the gap between the region’s fundamental importance to Moscow and its absence from policy texts over the previous ten years. [The document] regards the eastern Mediterranean (and thus the Middle East) as an “important area” and is willing to use force to safeguard its interests there.

Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: Israeli Security, Mediterranean Sea, Persian Gulf, Russia


Hamas’s Hostage Diplomacy

Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:

Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.

Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.

In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security