Roger L. Simon

Putin Ball

The only games being played these days are not in Torino but also in Moscow, where Vladimir Putin has invited Hamas leaders later this month for meetings, according to Reuters.

Planned talks in Russia with a delegation from Palestinian group Hamas may take place before the end of this month, a Russian official was quoted as saying on Saturday by Interfax news agency.

“It is quite possible,” Interfax quoted Middle East envoy Alexander Kalugin as saying when asked if the Moscow talks would happen this month.

He said contact had already been made with Hamas to agree details of the visit.

Khaled Meshaal, Hamas’ top leader who lives in exile in Damascus, would most likely lead the delegation to Moscow, Kalugin said.

What’s behind this? On the surface it’s just Old Soviet Russia making the familiar Middle East power play, but I suspect more. I wonder if Putin is not using his burgeoning relations with a Hamas as a lever to calm things with the Chechens. A spoken/unspoken deal may be in the offing. Whether it has a prayer of lasting is another matter.