Russia’s Putin tells the Middle East to pull back from a catastrophic clash

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Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday urged all sides in the Middle East to refrain from action that would trigger a new confrontation which he warned would be fraught with catastrophic consequences for the region, the Kremlin said.

Putin, who has forged much closer ties with the Islamic Republic since sending troops into Ukraine in 2022, spoke to Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi by phone about what the Kremlin called “retaliatory measures taken by Iran.”

Iran launched drones and missiles at Israel late on Saturday in retaliation for an Israeli strike on its Damascus consulate on April 1 that killed seven officers of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), including two senior commanders.

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Putin, in his first publicly aired comments on Iran’s attack, said the root cause of the current instability in the Middle East was the unresolved conflict between Palestinians and Israel.

“Vladimir Putin expressed hope that all sides would show reasonable restraint and prevent a new round of confrontation fraught with catastrophic consequences for the entire region,” the Kremlin said.

“Ebrahim Raisi noted that Iran’s actions were forced and limited in nature,” the Kremlin said. “At the same time, he stressed Tehran’s disinterest in further escalation of tensions.”

Tehran gave a slightly different readout of the call, with state media quoting Raisi as declaring that Iran would respond more severely, extensively, and painfully than ever to any action against Iran’s interests.

Iranian state media quoted Putin as characterizing Tehran’s response to Israel as the best way to punish the aggressor and a manifestation of the wisdom of Iran’s leaders.

Russia has repeatedly scolded the West for ignoring the need for an independent Palestinian state within 1967 borders.

“Both sides stated that the root cause of the current events in the Middle East is the unresolved Palestinian-Israeli conflict,” the Kremlin said of the call with Raisi.

“In this regard, the principled approaches of Russia and Iran in favor of an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, easing the difficult humanitarian situation, and creating conditions for a political and diplomatic settlement of the crisis were confirmed.”

Putin, who in 2022 visited Khamenei, congratulated Raisi and all Muslims on the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

Top US generals say the growing partnerships between Russia, China, Iran and North Korea pose one of the most dangerous challenges to the United States in the past four decades.

Iran has provided Russia with a large number of powerful surface-to-surface ballistic missiles and drones that Moscow has used in Ukraine.

-With Reuters

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