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RUSSIA CLOSE TO ZERO INFLUENCE IN MIDDLE EAST, SAYS EXPERT
MOSCOW, February 1 (RIA Novosti)-The Palestinian-Israeli peace process was a central issue at talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Mahmoud Abbas, the head of the Palestinian National Authority. The Palestinian leader said Moscow had opened "a window of hope" for the peace process in the region, while the Russian president emphasized that a new independent state with the right to a peaceful life must appear on the map, Gazeta informs its readers.
However, Alexei Malashenko, a leading Russian expert in oriental studies and a member of the Carnegie Moscow Center's research team, believes Mr. Abbas's current visit is more of a ritual, as Russia is unable to promote Palestine's interests effectively, as it does not have the money, ideas, or levers of influence to do so.
Mr. Malashenko believes Russia can hardly support Palestine against Israel due to an apparent confrontation with Washington in the wake of the Ukrainian and Georgian developments. In addition, Russia enjoys good relations with Israel. The most Mr. Abbas can hope to get in Moscow is its verbal support.
The political scientist believes that it has to be accepted that Russia's ability to influence the Middle East situation is close to zero.
Russia's positions as a world leader are weak today and it can only retain its presence in the region by force of inertia.
Once Russia has become a developed state, it will acquire interests and opportunities to promote them. "Therefore, we must hold meetings and talk as long as we can free of charge, but remember that these are only words," said Mr. Malashenko.