The unspeakable atrocities perpetrated on October 7 by the inhuman ISIS/Hamas brutes were evidently welcomed in Moscow as a boost to Russia’s fortunes. As they emerged on that Saturday from the bowels of the earth under Gaza, the Palestinian orcs – a term used by Ukrainians for Russian soldiers but even better suited for the degenerate jihadis as well as their supporters everywhere – triggered a huge security crisis in the Levant. Quite apart from the existential risk to Israel, this plays straight into Putin’s hands.
These events have detonated a triple charge under the West’s position in relation to Russia in particular. In the first place, they serve to distract and divide attention from the vast Ukraine war. The practical effects of this are already on agonising display in the US Congress, where the new Republican Speaker, Mike Johnson, is using the Israel emergency to justify further delays to vital Ukraine aid legislation.
This is only the latest low-point in the increasingly bitter political debate within the United States on support for Kyiv’s fight. Re-directing American resources towards the IDF (Israeli Defence Forces) rather than the AFU (Armed Forces of Ukraine) gives Kyiv-sceptics perfect cover for their petty politics.
In Europe, where many countries including Germany only gave in gradually, under pressure, to backing the Ukraine properly, there has always been much wavering. More recently, as Giorgia Meloni has admitted, there is increasing fatigue with the war – and now it is Gaza that holds the front pages, not the Donbas.
The second shockwave of October 7 is crippling key Western alliances in the region, to Russia’s benefit. The Abraham Accords are in tatters. Driven by their primary Islamic allegiances, Arab countries are taking radical positions on Israel – the Jordanian ambassador has just been withdrawn from Tel Aviv – thus placing its Western allies in a bind. The result is not just collapsing Western influence in the region but also panicked and degrading behaviour by the likes of France, which shamefully – and alone among major Western nations – voted at the UN for a halt to Israel’s vital military operations in Gaza.
But in this wide arc of Middle East realignments, it is Turkey’s behaviour that is of most concern. Erdogan has crossed the line into overt opposition to the West. The old Islamist has always been a duplicitous, aggressive and hateful bully, but in an unhinged speech at a vast rally in Constantinople (now Istanbul) on Saturday he let loose to the most vile and unacceptable threats of a “war between the Cross and the Crescent” and to irredentist thuggish rhetoric about cities in Greece and the Balkans that were once under the Ottomans and to which the “sultan” still seems to have a claim. All this, from a NATO “ally”.
The Europeans may well pretend to ignore these statements and meekly turn the other cheek as they always do – making ready to pay the Turk further bribes, like Angela Merkel did in her time – should he threaten more waves of refugees, but this cannot hide the seriousness of Erdogan’s new stance. The Russians have understood full well exactly what Ankara’s repositioning means and have been quick to take advantage: already last week they mined Ukraine’s grain-export sea lanes, safe in the knowledge that Turkey – once the guarantor of the Grain Deal – would no longer cause a fuss in the new circumstances.
Finally, the third impact from October 7 that works exceptionally well in Russia’s favour has been the upsurge of Israel-related protests, division and acrimony especially across the US and Western Europe. This opens rich new seams in the Western socio-political structure for Russia’s formidable information-warfare machinery to exploit. It serves not only to further destabilise its Western enemy, but also to dissipate and weaken public resolve and focus on supporting Ukraine.
There is, however, a silver lining of sorts to the disaster contained in these three categories of strategic advantages that the Kremlin is drawing from. After all, in every crisis there is opportunity.
For Europe, this opportunity lies in the moral reckoning of immense proportions and potential that ISIS/Hamas’s terrorist bloodbath has forced upon our societies – and particularly among political parties on the nationalist Right – with respect to Russia and the war in Ukraine.
The muscular, traditionalist, socially-conservative and nationalist outlook of Putin’s Russia had long been an object of interest and even admiration – explicit or more guarded – for many members of Right-wing movements across Europe. It is easy to see why: on every point of conservative criticism of the prevailing post-modern liberal culture, from globalism to LGBT-ism, from “human rights” to wokeness, from secularism to multiculturalism and so on, the European conservative Right found ostensible common ground with the “ideological” emanations from the Kremlin.
The seduction of Russia as a defender of “conservative traditionalist values”, standing up to many of the same mad cultural excesses of the West that also exercise Right-thinking people in Europe, proved irresistible in a great number of cases. What the Western “victims” did not appreciate was that this was only an outward image projection, carefully curated by Moscow’s exquisite and deeply experienced propaganda apparatus. The purpose? To advance Russia’s geopolitical agenda by obtaining a measure of reflexive control over the adversary’s polity.
Much of this type of old-school Communist tactic exploits naïve mirror-imaging and wishful thinking on the part of the “target”, whether that is an individual or a group – such as a political party in the West, or a movement. Constantly hounded and delegitimised by the genuinely excessive – and, often, authoritarian – “liberal”-globalist establishment that became hegemonic in the post-Cold War “free world”, Western conservative nationalists tended, wrongly, to take a selective view of the Russian offering. They ignored or excused some of the dark signs that did stain the finely-woven veil – from democracy and civil rights issues to Moscow’s sponsorship of some of the vilest communist and left-wing regimes on the planet, from Venezuela to North Korea.
Putin’s February 2022 invasion split the European nationalist scene as conceptual and ideological affinities – very often driven more by eccentricity than conviction, as had happened in many cases before, with fascism and communism – were tested against the brutal destruction of war. Ukraine itself epitomised Europe’s nationalist paradox, with the country’s most rightwing and in some cases overtly Nazi political groups and militias now locked in deadly combat with Russian ones of an identical outlook. This symmetrical conceptual pairing was replicated all along the political spectrum from the extreme, far-Right to the more classic conservative opinion.
Those Right-wing movements and parties that retained, to whatever extent, a favourable attitude towards Russia – sometimes dressed up as a “neutral” stance on Ukraine – have often done so out of an excess of “anti-globalism”. The likes of Lega or AfD and many other more marginal but still relevant groups tend to agree with Putin that America and its heavy-handed “democracy promotion” – together with the “progressive kit” of rainbow policies – is fundamentally the real problem in both cultural and geopolitical terms, and that Russia is the solution (and that it is also simply reacting to the encroachments of the US).
Irrespective of how much merit there is in the diagnosis, the solution embraced by some still-entranced Russophile factions in Europe is a prime pathological case of ideological hallucination. It has been extraordinary to observe, even through a year and a half of brutal warfare in Ukraine – if the previous history of Putin’s regime was not enough – that some people still think that a form of Russian “victory” against Kyiv would be of little importance, either way, for the rest of Europe.
Leaving aside what this outcome would mean for Ukraine itself, once defeated and disarmed – which seems to be of little interest to this constituency – there are two schools of thought here. One holds that Russia would be too weak to threaten the rest of Europe, and the other thinks that it would not even want to.
The first ignores the wider political crisis that would befall the Continent and indeed the whole West if Russia is successful; the consequences are incalculable, particularly when considered in conjunction with the global catalysing effects for China’s ambitions and the crisis in the Middle East. The EU and even NATO are unlikely to survive the political shockwave of a Muscovite triumph in Ukraine. The Russian army does not need to march all the way to Paris in order for the Kremlin to achieve dominance by fear across most of the Continent, in a return to the dark old days of the Cold War.
But it is the second assumption that some of the Russophile nationalists make, which is truly at the heart of the entire “Russian problem” insofar as it exists in European conservatism writ large, i.e. the view that Russia is really on “our side” and that it can be a partner in the future – certainly in ensuring the traditionalist reform of Europe. In other words, this is the assumption that Russia would have no interest in pressing its advantage further than Ukraine, and that Putin effectively is a reasonable, rational leader who has only been pursuing his “just” claims, and that “we” can work with him. Absurd and ridiculous as it sounds, this view is in fact to be found, implicitly or explicitly, often even subconsciously, across parts of the nationalist Right in Europe.
In the wake of the October 7 diabolical carnage, for the first time Moscow itself has offered the civilised world the most powerful antidote to the Russophile virus. On October 26 a Hamas delegation led by Mousa Abu Marzook, a founder of that abominable group, flew to Putin’s capital, ostensibly to discuss Russian hostages at the Foreign Ministry – a feeble pretext for what was clearly a demonstration of high-level relations between the two sides.
Last year Ismail Haniyeh himself, the head of these devils (who lives in Qatar), also went to Moscow; Russia’s close relations to Hamas have always been well known – and of course, conveniently ignored by Putin’s admirers in the West. But at least prior to October 7 one could at least “explain” such naivety by pointing out that ISIS (which Russia ostensibly used to bomb in Syria) was worse than Hamas.
The fact that Putin had these terrorist monsters come on an official trip to Moscow after what they did on October 7 – which surpasses the butchery and cruelty of ISIS – should disabuse anyone of any notion that the ruler of Kremlin and his regime have anything to do with the Christian religion or civilisation in general. These are merely tools to woo the gullible, weak and frustrated Westerner. Finally, Putin’s mask has slipped: in embracing Hamas he has been shown to be working with the very worst creatures walking the Earth today. Such men stop at nothing – and want everything.