Russia’s number one foreign policy priority is to re-establish itself as a great power in world affairs. The current position of the United States as the global hegemon is the single most important obstacle to Russia achieving its goal. Almost all of Russia’s actions can be understood within the rubric of an attempt to deconstruct the US position in order to permit Russia room to enter.
That is why Russia opened up talks with a newly elected Hamas government that had been rejected by the international community. It is also why Russia has used its veto position in the UN Security Council to block western efforts to apply pressure to Iran. The country’s hope is that the international community will have to rely on Russia in order to achieve a negotiated settlement in the Middle East.
Indeed, in the immediate aftermath of the first salvo in the on-going conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, Russia called for talks with the latter and fully expected that the international community would have to rely upon its good offices to negotiate with Hezbollah and its two patrons, Syria and Iran. Russia’s hopes were further encouraged by talk in some circles that the US Administration had been sidelined in the conflict by a Middle East policy that had squandered the country's previous claim to being an honest broker.
All of that has changed in the course of the last week. The international community has rejected negotiations with terrorists (Hezbollah and Hamas). Syria and Iran have found themselves diplomatically isolated and under pressure from European and Arab states. And Russia has found itself on the sidelines. That explains Foreign Minister Lavrov’s statement in recent days that the US is “monopolizing” management of the conflict. One way Russia can get back into the game is to take the lead in providing troops to an international force keeping Syrian rockets out of Lebanon.