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Russia’s Middle East policy after the Arab revolutions. OSW Commentary No. 59, 2011-07-26

Kaczmarski, Marcin (2011) Russia’s Middle East policy after the Arab revolutions. OSW Commentary No. 59, 2011-07-26. [Policy Paper]

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    Russia’s policy towards the Middle East is instrumental. Its activity in the region has been growing since the middle of the last decade, and its aim is to help Moscow achieve its objectives in other areas, particularly in its policies towards the US and Europe, as well as its energy policy. The establishment of these political influences constitutes a bargaining chip for Russia in its relations with the US. Russia’s participation in resolving conflicts is aimed at building up its image as a supra-regional power. Russia’s Middle East policy is a key element in its contacts with the Muslim world. At the same time, Russia’s policy in the region remains cautious – despite its return to the region, Russia has not decided to ‘play’ for the Middle East, and its position and role in the region remain limited. The balance of power in the Middle East has been shifting in the aftermath of the Arab revolutions. However, it does not seem that they have opened up larger opportunities for Russian policy in the region. The Russian elite has been divided in its assessment of the consequences of these events. One part of it has displayed scepticism, treating the revolutions rather as a threat than a chance to strengthen their own position. The revolutions were not seen as democratisation processes, but rather as a destabilisation of the region and as posing an increased danger from radical Islam. For the other part of the elite, the revolutions were the natural consequence of the social changes occurring in the region. This internal dispute made it difficult for Russia to present a cohesive approach to the Arab revolutions, and its stance was reactive. The defensive position which Moscow adopted showed that Russia did not have the potential to mould the political situation, either in the region as a whole or its individual countries; neither did it display any willingness to do so. What Moscow is doing is positioning itself in such a way so as not to spoil relations with any other actor in the region, and to be able to exploit any possible emerging opportunities in case of further-reaching changes.

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    Item Type: Policy Paper
    Subjects for non-EU documents: Countries > Russia
    Subjects for EU documents: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Series and Periodicals: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Annual Reports: UNSPECIFIED
    Series: Series > Centre for Eastern Studies (OSW) > OSW Commentary
    Depositing User: Phil Wilkin
    Official EU Document: No
    Language: English
    Date Deposited: 12 Dec 2014 14:51
    Number of Pages: 6
    Last Modified: 12 Dec 2014 14:51

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