Russian SVR Agents Missing in Gaza
According to sources from both Israel and Russia, seven agents from Russia’s SVR intelligence service have disappeared in Gaza. These agents were stationed in Gaza around two months ago, and for the past two weeks, there has been no contact with their handlers. This situation is believed by some Israeli officials to be the reason for Russia’s recent shift in tone regarding the Israeli hostages.
Amidst the ongoing conflict, the Russian intelligence service, the SVR, lost contact with seven of its agents placed in Gaza. In recent days, Moscow has reached out to various entities in Israel in an attempt to ascertain the fate of these agents. An insider source suggests that concerns have been growing in Moscow about the welfare of these agents since they’ve been out of touch for the past fortnight.
Formal Statement From Kremlin
The Kremlin issued a formal statement today, urging Hamas to immediately release all hostages in Gaza. “Our position is clear and unequivocal,” said Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov. He emphasized, “Russia is doing everything in its power to free its citizens held captive by Hamas and is in talks with all involved parties. Our hearts go out to the families and friends of the hostages. We hope they will be released soon, safe and sound. Naturally, our primary concern is for our citizens who hold Russian passports.”
Seven agents trained in Russia were deployed to Gaza roughly two months ago. Their primary mission was to monitor and report on Gaza’s political, military, and socio-economic landscape
Peskov’s statement marks a significant departure from Russia’s previous stance. Just two days after the massacre in the border area, President Putin used a diplomatic meeting with the Iraqi Prime Minister to criticize the U.S., implying that its Middle East policies led to the crisis with Hamas. Four days later, Putin even compared the Gaza blockade to the Nazi siege of Leningrad.
Now, revelations from sources in both Israel and Russia suggest that Russia’s surprising shift in stance, demanding the immediate release of all hostages, stems from a desire among Russian officials to collaborate with their Israeli counterparts. They hope to understand what happened to the seven missing SVR agents.
Internal Conflicts in Russia
This outreach, the sources suggest, coincides with internal power struggles within the Kremlin among various factions, all vying for Putin’s attention. One Russian source familiar with these internal dynamics identifies three main groups: those within the presidential administration, close allies of Putin, those in the Russian foreign ministry, and various Russian intelligence organizations. These internal conflicts had been mostly behind the scenes. However, recent days have seen more overt confrontations after a senior Kremlin official, Yevgeny Satanovsky, criticized the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Maria Zakharova, labeling her “heavy-handed and anti-Semitic.”
Yet, the real storm brewing within the Kremlin circles is the mysterious disappearance of the seven SVR agents in Gaza. In the last few days, queries from Moscow have arrived in Israel, seeking alternative ways to find out what happened to these agents. Among the hostages in Gaza are several Israelis with Russian citizenship, giving Russia a reason to get involved. However, for Moscow, these hostages are just the tip of the iceberg. Currently, around a thousand individuals holding Russian passports reside in Gaza. But they don’t seem to be the central concern. All attention is fixated on the seven agents with whom contact was lost.
Why The Change of Tone?
A senior Israeli official believes this is the real reason behind the Kremlin’s sudden change in tone. This official suggests that Russia realizes it needs to be part of the international negotiation process. “Preliminary discussions in favor of this process are already underway between Israeli and Russian officials,” the source claimed.
Why Were Russian Agents in Gaza?
According to the source, “Seven agents trained in Russia were deployed to Gaza roughly two months ago. Their primary mission was to monitor and report on Gaza’s political, military, and socio-economic landscape. Within Russian intelligence circles, these operatives are often referred to as ‘anthropologists.’ Remarkably, three years prior, two agents with the same ‘anthropologist’ designation were detained by Libyan intelligence. This occurred after they established contact with Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, seemingly as part of a Russian initiative to position him for the Libyan presidency. Their release was eventually secured, largely due to the efforts of Dmitry Prigozhin, the leader of the Wagner Group. Tragically, Prigozhin recently lost his life in a mysterious plane crash.”