Russia’s Ambassador to Israel Alexander Shein refused to refer to Palestinian terror group Hamas and the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah as terrorist organizations, in an interview last week with Israeli Russian-language TV station Channel 9.
“We do not consider these organizations [Hamas and Hezbollah] to be terrorists,” Shein said, stating that Russia considers the groups “radical organizations, which sometimes adhere to extremist political views.”
Shein added, “The Supreme Court [of Russia], following an appeal by the prosecution, defines terrorist organizations as such when they intentionally conduct acts of terror in Russian territory, or against Russian interests abroad.”
Although he publicly condemned Hamas’s indiscriminate rocket fire on Israeli civilians during the 2014 Gaza war, the ambassador reiterated, “we do not consider them to be terrorists at all.”
Among other countries, the U.S., European Union, Britain, Canada and Australia have designated Hamas and Hezbollah as terror organizations.
In the same interview, Shein refuted attempts to equate Hamas and Hezbollah with the Islamic State terror organization, saying, “You equate ISIS [with Hamas and Hezbollah], but we think this is wrong.”
Hezbollah has deep ties with both Iran and Syrian President Bashar Assad, the latter of whom Russia supports with its military in the ongoing civil war, while Hamas is also linked with Iran and in the past had links to the Assad regime before cutting ties in 2012.