Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov received on March 15 a delegation of senior Hezbollah figures led by Mohammad Raad, the head of the Loyalty to the Resistance Bloc — the political wing of Hezbollah — and media reports indicated that the two sides had held “open and friendly” talks.
The meeting, held at Russia’s request, was described by analysts as different from Moscow’s previous ones with Hezbollah and it showed Russia’s inclination to see the Lebanese resistance movement as an “independent” power.
The visit by the four-member Hezbollah delegation to Russia took place at a time when Lebanon is mired in its worst economic crisis in decades as well as a political stalemate over the formation of a new government.
“The two sides stressed the need to strengthen means of communication between them and to adopt direct channels of communication between the party and Moscow, while studying the possibility of establishing a representative office for the party in the Russian capital,” Lebanon’s al-Akhbar newspaper said in a report on Tuesday.
The Lebanese paper also said the two sides had discussed the situation in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, and Palestine.
Pointing to the Syrian crisis, the al-Akhbar newspaper said the Russians stressed that the presence of Hezbollah in the war-inflicted Arab country was “necessary,” and added that Moscow counted on future cooperation with the resistance movement.
“Russian officials were keen to deliver a clear message to the Hezbollah leadership: Your presence in Syria is necessary, in politics, as in the military,” the paper said. “We count on cooperating with you in the future in both fields.”
Hezbollah was established following the 1982 Israeli invasion and occupation of southern Lebanon. Since then, the popular resistance movement has grown into a powerful military force.
During the 2000 and 2006 Israeli wars on Lebanon, battleground contribution by Hezbollah proved an indispensable asset, forcing the Israeli military into a retreat and shattering the myth of the occupying entity’s invincibility.
Moreover, Hezbollah has played a critical role in the Syrian military’s counter-terrorism operations over the past years with the aim of preventing the spillover of the Syria crisis into Lebanon.
The US has labeled the entire Hezbollah a terrorist organization and levied several rounds of sanctions on the Lebanese resistance movement as well as its top officials.
Unlike the Western countries, Russia does not consider Hezbollah a terrorist organization.