After decades of intense interest and rivalry with the USA, the end of the Cold War and the dismantling of the USSR officially marked a period of significant retreat of the new Russia from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). However, with Russia’s economic recovery and the entrenchment of President Vladimir Putin, once again Russia’s interest in the region has risen. Once again seen as a battleground to contest US hegemony, Russia has expanded its political, military, and (to a lesser extent) economic relationships across the region. Most apparent in the military intervention in Syria, Russia has also been engaged with traditional rivals Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, stepping into the vacuum left by the Obama Administration in the USA. Is Russia’s re-engagement part of a strategy, or is it mere opportunism? This book examines this question via an analysis of both the historical drivers of Russian interest in the MENA region and the factors underlying current Russian policies. Benefiting from authors with different backgrounds, experiences and origins, this volume unpacks the key aspects that characterize the Russian presence in the area, including national interest, historical ties, economic, political and cultural cooperation, and perceptions of other relevant international actors.
Chiara Lovotti is an Associate Research Fellow for the Middle East and North Africa Centre of the Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI).
Eleonora Tafuro Ambrosetti is a research fellow at the Russia, Caucasus and Central Asia Centre at ISPI.
1 Setting the Stage for Analyzing Russia’s MENA "Return": A Historical Background
Eleonora Tafuro Ambrosetti, Chiara Lovotti and Youssef Cherif
2 Russia in Syria: Between Past, Present and Future
3 From Alienation to Coordination: A Twisted Path of Russian-Israeli Relationship
Luiza Khlebnikova and Maxim A. Suchkov,
4 Russia’s Relations with Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey: Friends in Need, Friends Indeed?
Annalisa Perteghella and Valeria Talbot
5 Russia in the MENA Region: A Familiar Tale of Economic Means to Political Ends
Christopher A. Hartwell
6 Criticism or Compliance? The Syrian Crisis Viewed by Russia’s Muslims and MENA Christians
Katarzyna W. Sidło and Matteo Benussi
7 European Perceptions of Russia’s Role in the MENA Region
Eleonora Tafuro Ambrosetti