MOSCOW, Oct 11 (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the United States on Wednesday of inflaming the Middle East by sending an aircraft carrier group to the region, saying “compromise solutions” were needed and that he hoped common sense would prevail.
The Kremlin chief has called the explosion of violence between Israel and the Palestinians a vivid example of the failure of U.S. policy in the Middle East, which he says has taken no account of the needs of the Palestinians.
Following the surprise attack by Hamas militants on Israel on Saturday, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the U.S. was moving a carrier strike group, which includes the USS Gerald R. Ford, closer to Israel.
Putin, speaking at an energy conference in Moscow, said the U.S. move, which was also fiercely criticised by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday, was a mistake.
“I don’t understand why the U.S. is dragging aircraft carrier groups into the Mediterranean Sea. I don’t really understand the point. Are they going to bomb Lebanon or what?” he said.
“Or have they decided to try to scare someone? There are people there who are no longer afraid of anything. This is not the way to solve the problem. Compromise solutions need to be looked for. Of course, such actions are inflaming the situation.”
Putin, who is locked in a standoff with the West over Ukraine, accused Washington of sidestepping what was an established process for trying to settle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by unsuccessfully taking matters into its own hands, and without resolving fundamental issues.
“Now, we hear Iran is being accused of all sorts of things, as usual without evidence. Let’s see, hopefully common sense will prevail,” said Putin.
Tehran said on Tuesday it was not involved in Hamas’s attack on Israel.
Describing the violence in Israel as terrible, the Kremlin chief said the wider conflict could not be resolved without addressing issues such as the creation of a Palestinian state.
He warned that any escalation of the conflict zone could have severe consequences for various sectors, including energy.
“First of all, it could affect logistics, insurance and freight,” Putin said.
“Of course, it will not affect (energy) production, but it could affect all other components that determine the state of the world’s energy markets.”
Reporting by Reuters
Writing by Andrew Osborn
Editing by Gareth Jones and Toby Chopra
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.