Russia on Sunday called for an international monitoring mission to go to Gaza to assess the humanitarian situation, and said it was unacceptable for Israel to use Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack as justification for punishing the Palestinian people.
Israel invaded Gaza in retaliation for Hamas attack that Israel says killed 1,200 people. Israel’s assault on Gaza has killed at least 17,000 people, Gaza health authorities say.
The United States on Friday vetoed a proposed U.N. Security Council demand for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the war between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas.
“We strongly condemned the terrorist attack against Israel on Oct. 7,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Al Jazeera in an interview aired on Sunday at the Doha Forum conference.
“At the same time, we do not believe it is acceptable to use this event for the collective punishment of the millions of Palestinian people with indiscriminate shelling.”
Lavrov said that for there to be “humanitarian pauses” in Gaza “some kind of monitoring on the ground” was needed.
“We addressed the [UN] Secretary General [Antonio Guterres] suggesting that he use his authority to consider some kind of monitoring – but so far to no avail,” Lavrov said.
President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly accused the United States and the West of ignoring the need for an independent Palestinian state within 1967 borders. Putin on Sunday spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about Gaza.
“This happened not in a vacuum,” Lavrov said, pointing to decades of blockade and unfulfilled promises about a Palestinian state.
The UN’s Guterres has previously said that the Hamas attack did not happen in a vacuum. Israel said Guterres had justified the Hamas attacks with such words. Guterres rejected the Israeli accusations.
Asked in the Al Jazeera interview if Russia was being hypocritical with its criticism about that fate of the Palestinians while Russia fights a war in Ukraine, Lavrov said neither he nor Russia were hypocritical.
Lavrov said that the West was trying to exhaust Russia in Ukraine by supplying weapons and that if peace talks were to take place then Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy would have to annul his own presidential decree.
“It is up to the Ukrainians to recognise how deep they are in the hole where the Americans put them,” Lavrov said when asked if the war was at a stalemate.
When asked by Al Jazeera what the chances were of diplomacy to bring about a ceasefire or peace in Ukraine, he said: “You’ll have to call Mr Zelenskiy because a year and half ago he signed a decree prohibiting any negotiations with Putin.”
Lavrov said that a peace deal between Ukraine and Russia was almost reached in Istanbul in March and April 2022 based on the idea of Ukrainian neutrality.
“This deal was aborted – it was cancelled because the Americans and the Brits decided that if Putin is ready to sign it then lets exhaust him more. That’s what they are doing now. Stalemate or no stalemate – that is the fact,” Lavrov said.
Asked in the interview about the August plane crash which killed Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, Lavrov said investigators had probed the crash.
“As regards the soldiers from Wagner group… quite a number of them went to Belarus and started to serve there,” Lavrov said “Others joined the regular structures of the Russian army – and they continue to serve.”