Russia’s President has promised to supply Palestinians with military hardware and to help train its security forces.
But it seems Vladimir Putin’s offer stopped short of the dozens of armoured personnel carriers which Palestinians hoped for but which Israel had opposed. He made the announcement after talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, adding that the resources were necessary to enforce law and order in the region. Putin seems to have been walking a diplomatic tight rope during his tour that has taken him to Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian territories. He dropped plans for a Middle East peace conference in Moscow after Israel and the US criticised the proposal as ‘premature’. He has also tried to ease Israeli fears over his agreement to supply Iran with nuclear fuel and to sell arms to Syria. In the West Bank though Putin was assured a warm welcome – Palestinians and Moscow have a long history of political and cultural co-operation. In a sign of respect for the former Palestinian leader he layed a wreath at the tomb of former President Yasser Arafat.