Russia's Diplomacy in the Middle East: Back to GeopoliticsRussie.Nei.Visions, No. 93, May 2016
Moscow's approach to the Middle East has undergone real changes from Soviet times to the present day: it evolved from creating zones of influence against the background of confrontation with the West to seeing the region through the prism of mainly economic interests, and, finally, to Moscow’s current pragmatic view.View PDF
Russia's Diplomacy in the Middle East: Back to Geopolitics
The latter, in essence, is a fusion of the previous two stages, with the Middle East serving Russia as a springboard for military and political manoeuvres in its confrontation with the West, while at the same time being seen as a potentially promising market for Russia’s modern weaponry, engineering and heavy trucks. Moscow also approaches this region today as a potential source of finance, in the form of loans and investment.
Moscow’s pragmatic approach to the Middle East is now being tested by the Syrian crisis. Russia’s military and political moves in Syria have raised a host of important questions. To what extent do they accord with Russia’s wider regional interests, and bolster its authority in the Arab (Sunni) world? What should Russia’s long-term interest in this region be, with long-term interests, by definition, not being bound to individual politicians—in Russia as well as in Middle Eastern countries? This article is an attempt to trace the evolution of Russian policy in the Middle East and to judge what effects Russia’s approach to the Syrian crisis might have on the position it occupies in the region.Alexander Shumilin, political science PhD, is Director of the Centre for the Analysis of Middle Eastern conflicts at the Institute for US and Canadian Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences