On March 15, the Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov received senior Hizballah officials in Moscow; two days later, Lavrov’s Israeli counterpart, Gabi Ashkenazi, arrived in the same city for consultations. Shortly thereafter, Lavrov set off for the Persian Gulf, while Vladimir Putin flew to Turkey, where he attended the ribbon-cutting of a nuclear plant Russia built. Jonathan Spyer notes that in these meetings alone, the Kremlin shored up relations with all three of the Middle East’s rival blocs: the Iran-Syria-Hizballah axis, the Sunni Islamists led by Qatar and Turkey, and the pro-Western countries led by Saudi Arabia, Israel, Egypt, and the UAE.
How Russia Plays All Sides of the Middle East’s Power Struggles, and Wins
Why a Government Victory in Southwestern Syria Is Bad News for Israel
Last week, Russia negotiated a ceasefire between the Syrian government and rebel forces in the city of Daraa, where the initial protests that sparked the uprising against Bashar al-Assad began. The agreement ended a 75-day assault on the city, located near the country’s southwestern border, by Russian, Iranian, and Syrian forces. Jonathan Spyer explains the significance of these events: