Putin blames West for Gaza crisis, says US needs global chaos

FILE PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a Security Council meeting in Moscow

(Reuters) -Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday sought to blame the West for the crisis in the Middle East, where Israel is bombing the Gaza Strip to try to eradicate Hamas militants who killed some 1,400 people, mostly civilians, in Israel on Oct. 7.

In a televised statement to a meeting of members of his Security Council and the government and the heads of law enforcement agencies, Putin said the "ruling elites of the U.S." and their "satellites" stood behind the killing of Gaza's Palestinians, and behind conflicts in Ukraine, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.

"They need constant chaos in the Middle East. Therefore (the U.S.) does its best to discredit those countries that insist on an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, on stopping the bloodshed, and are ready to make a real contribution to resolving the crisis, and not parasitise on it."

Russia backs an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and a two-state solution. It has also angered Israel by receiving a Hamas delegation in Moscow.

Having sent his army into Ukraine in February 2022 with the argument that Moscow had to free fellow Russian speakers from alleged oppression, Putin has for the last year or so cast his "special military operation" as a struggle for Russian survival against a U.S.-led West determined to use Ukraine to crush and dismantle Russia.

Putin said Russia was fighting the shadowy U.S. forces he blamed for the Middle East crisis on the battlefields of Ukraine.

"Palestine can only be helped by fighting those who are behind this tragedy. We are Russia and we are fighting them in the context of the 'special military operation'. Both for ourselves and for those who strive for real true freedom," he said.

"The key to resolving the conflict is in the creation of a sovereign, independent Palestinian state," Putin said, implying that this was not Washington's stated aim.

He also blamed the West and Ukraine, around a fifth of which Russian forces have seized, for events in Dagestan, where a mob on Sunday night attempted to hunt down passengers who had just landed at Makhachkala airport from Israel.

"The events in Makhachkala last night were inspired, including through social networks, not least from the territory of Ukraine, by the hands of agents of Western intelligence services," said Putin, without citing any evidence.

(Reporting by Reuters; Writing by Kevin Liffey;Editing by Andrew Osborn)