It has been 597 days since Russia, under the command of President Vladimir Putin, initiated an unprovoked full-scale invasion of neighboring Ukraine on February 24, 2022.
Despite the Russian military's expectation of a swift victory, Ukrainian forces have managed to resist, largely due to military, economic, and humanitarian aid from the West.
In recent days, the focus of global headlines has shifted from the war in Ukraine to the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas.
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky warns that Putin is keen to exploit this crisis. "Russia is interested in starting a war in the Middle East so that a new source of pain and suffering can undermine global cohesion, increase divisions and conflicts, and thereby help Russia destroy freedom in Europe," Zelensky said, according to CNN.
Comparing Hamas and Putin
Zelensky made these remarks during a NATO meeting in Brussels, where he was invited to speak. He noted several similarities between Hamas's attack on Israel and what Ukraine has endured for the past one and a half years.
"We are in the war; we understand what it means to be subjected to a terrorist attack. Terrorists like Putin, or like Hamas, try to hold free and democratic nations hostage and seek power over those seeking freedom. The terrorists will not change; they must simply lose. And that means we must win; it requires patience, steady, and continuous support," he said.
Hanna Notte, an analyst and Eurasia chief at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, confirmed that Russia has long-standing friendships with both Hamas and Iran.
However, she does not share the view that Putin would directly benefit from the Israel war. On the contrary, it could become complicated as Russia also has close diplomatic relations with Israel. "I'm not sure Russia would be pleased with an Iran-Israel war that would engulf Lebanon and probably Syria," she said, according to Sky News.