Since 2012, there has been a period of diplomatic activity by the Kremlin in the Middle East which is unprecedented since the fall of the USSR. Existing records of diplomatic and political contacts show an increased exchange of multilevel delegations between Russia and Middle Eastern countries. Moscow is attempting to cultivate deeper involvement in regional issues and to establish contacts with those forces in the region which the Kremlin considers as legitimate. If before 2012 the Kremlin’s diplomacy in the Middle East could be characterized as inconsistent and shaped by the opportunism of the Russian authorities, the growing confrontation with the West became the factor which impelled Moscow to intensify its activities in the Middle East. All in all, by intensifying its current activities in the region, the Kremlin is pursuing the following three goals:
Economic: compensating for the negative effects of sanctions on the Russian economy; securing existing sources of income; protecting the interests of Russian energy companies and their share in the international oil and gas market.
- Political: avoiding complete international isolation; creating leverage which can be used to affect U.S. and EU behavior; propagandizing Moscow’s conception of the “right world order”; shaping Russian popular opinion.
- Security:reducing potential security threats for Russia and the post-Soviet space posed by the situation in the Middle East...