If media attention is in short supply, so too are munitions. Mr. Biden has vowed that the United States can support both Israel’s and Ukraine’s security needs, and is asking Congress for $105 billion in emergency funding to cover them. But Israel may eventually need weapons that are now running short in Ukraine, including armed drones and artillery rounds. Trapped in a war of attrition of its own making, Russia must be relishing the appearance of a new and demanding conflict for the United States, draining the strength of its adversaries.

What’s more, the war in Gaza threatens to postpone — if not derail — the Biden administration’s efforts to normalize relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia. Even before this month, Washington had the herculean task of reconciling the parties’ disparate demands related to U.S. security guarantees, a Saudi civilian nuclear program and the fate of the Palestinians. The new cycle of violence now threatens the initiative altogether.

That would please officials in Moscow, who have always viewed the Abraham Accords, a set of deals between Israel and several Arab states struck in 2020 that paved the way for the Saudi normalization process, as an American project that sidelines Russia. Its faltering offers Russia more than just the sheer pleasure of seeing America struggle. Moscow has its own designs for nuclear cooperation with Saudi Arabia and also hopes to thwart the maturing of an Arab-Israeli defense partnership against Iran, an increasingly close Russian partner.

But Russia’s biggest gain may come in the court of global opinion. Moscow’s messaging on the conflict — the Kremlin has refused to call the attack on Oct. 7 “terrorism” and blamed the escalation on Western policy mistakes — aligns Russia with public sentiment across much of the Middle East. Silhouetted behind platitudes about peace, calls for the protection of all civilians and acknowledgments of Israel’s right to self-defense are hints of a pro-Palestinian position. In Russian media coverage, the display of Palestinian suffering in Gaza has taken center stage and Russian officials have spotlighted humanitarian concerns while avoiding any direct censure of Hamas. Moscow’s affinity for the Palestinian cause is not new, but the Kremlin has become more explicit about it.

Yet Russian aspirations go beyond the Middle East. Styling itself as David to the Western Goliath, Russia has framed its war against Ukraine as an “anticolonial” fight to end the West’s global dominance — tapping into powerful grievances held across the developing world about Western arrogance and hypocrisy. The Kremlin’s response to the war in Gaza, putting distance between itself and Washington’s unequivocal pro-Israel stance, is designed to exploit those feelings further. For Russia, increasing disillusion with the West and even winning over new sympathizers for its challenge to the global order would be advances worth the risk of upsetting Israel. That such a position plays into tensions in Europe is a pleasing byproduct.





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