Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, was in the Middle East last
week. He had a particularly unpleasant time when meeting with Israeli
foreign minister Tzipi Livni and even with the country's president, Shimon
Peres, who can usually dazzle people with his verbal gymnastics.  Prime
minister Ehud Olmert was more genial.  Still, Lavrov must have felt the
chill.  All Israel believes that the Russia has nothing to add to the
already vacant stage set.

According
to the Jerusalem Post, Lavrov wants to call a peace
conference for Moscow in June.  If the U.S. can have one why not
Russia?  As almost nothing happened in Annapolis less then nothing will
happen in the Kremlin.  Russia has no real credit with any of the putative
participants.  It cannot influence Israel, and it will not even try to
influence the Palestinians. This means a guaranteed flop.

The Russians have played a mischievous game in the Middle East, a reckless
game, since 1956, then worse in 1967, even worse in 1973. Their
credentials for organizing a confab are zip.

They have even lost their influence with Syria. It has flowed to Iran. In
the old days of the Assad cabal and when communism was the official
religion in Moscow, they held some modicum of sway. But they didn't
exercise it. The Russians bring nothing to the table now, nothing.

I am afraid that Lavrov will have to drink his vodka by himself.