MAXIM IVANOV, MILITARY SERVICEMAN
I think Russia should actively participate in the Middle East peace negotiations. The violence that broke out in that region should be stopped. If Russia has the power to influence the situation and I would suppose that Russia has some diplomatic influence in that region it should use it to prevent further bloodshed. Any attempts at further peace talks are important and might be decisive. Plus, such mediation efforts are important because they improve Russia's positive image on the foreign-policy front.
YULIA IVANOVA, STUDENT
Russia has a considerable Muslim population as well as a sizable Jewish community, so, for Russia, the role of mediator in this conflict would be essential, especially since we have some influence on both sides. We are still considered an impartial arbitrator, at least to some extent. The United States usually sympathizes with Israel, while Russia can be more balanced in its approach to peace talks, which would be fair to both sides.
UMAHAN FATALIEV, HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGER
Russia is still a superpower and its predecessor, the U.S.S.R., was among the countries responsible for the creation of Israel as a separate state. Also, Russia should defend its own interests in the Middle East. I doubt we have any considerable economic interest in that region, but politically it is an important spot for Russia. Traditionally, we have always had special relations with Israel, since there are many emigrants from Russia there. But we should keep in mind that we also have decent relations with representatives of the Palestinian Authority.
TATYANA CHEPAK, PROGRAMMER
I don't think that Russia has to play an active role in the Middle East conflict; we have quite a few problems at home. Certainly Russia should defend its interests there; I've heard that one Russian Orthodox church was robbed there. But then again, I think it was a mistake to create the Israeli state on land where Arabs have lived for centuries. Israel took the land away from Arabs, which to this day is at the core of the issue.
IGOR SAVVIN, MUSICIAN
Personally, I think that Russia should take part in the peace talks. I have been to the Middle East, and I think that if Russia doesn't intervene and doesn't participate in the peace process, the consequences might be awful. The Arabs and Israelis really hate each other. And what if America stops playing an active part in the peace talks? Then I think that only Russia would be able to do anything to salvage the situation.
ANASTASIA ZHARIKOVA, SECRETARY
Yes, I think so. America always participates in all international affairs, and such active participation helps its image as a world power. Russia also has its own position on many issues. We also have much to offer, particularly on the Middle East conflict. This move might do a lot to boost Russia's image. If we want to be viewed as a great power on the international arena, we have to be proactive in our foreign policy.