|Russia and the Middle East: a Cold War paradigm?
This essay argues that, although it is tempting to view Russian policies through a revived Cold War paradigm, this is a problematic and ultimately misguided approach. Such an approach ignores the significant sources of discontinuity and rupture between the Soviet Union and post-Soviet Russia. The essay presents an alternative framework for understanding and conceptualising Russia's engagement with the Middle East. This has three dimensions and takes an ‘inside-out’ approach. First, there are the domestic drivers for Russian engagement which is linked to the perceived need to counter the threat of secessionism in the North Caucasus and the potential broader radicalisation of Russia's Muslim population. Second, there are the more strictly economic interests in the Middle East, which include increasingly important trading relations with moderate pro-Western states in the region. And, third, there are the geopolitical considerations which certainly include potential competition with the West but also incorporate Russian ambitions to promote its credentials as a responsible great power supporting international norms, such as the principle of non-proliferation and a settlement of the Arab–Israeli conflict. The tension and conflict between these two strands of Russian policy making have been notably present in Moscow's responses to the Arab Spring.
|64 (3), pp. 543-560
|Taylor & Francis
|Digital Object Identifier (DOI)