Mark N. Katz, visiting senior fellow at the Middle East Policy Council, discusses Russia's foreign-policy stance and objectives in the Middle East in the pages of Russian Analytical Digest:
Russian leaders — especially Vladimir Putin — have spoken on many occasions about how Russia is once again a great power. Since the rise of Putin, Russia has also been pursuing an active foreign policy in the Middle East. Russian foreign policy toward the Middle East under Putin and Medvedev, though, is not so much that of an assertive great power as it is that of a prudent power pursuing relatively limited objectives. Primary among these limited Russian objectives are: First, keeping the North Caucasus from becoming an anti-Rus- sian cause célèbre in the Muslim Middle East the way Afghanistan was in the 1980’s; second, working with others to prevent the rise of radical Sunni forces in the Middle East that would be hostile to Russia; and third, pursuing Moscow’s economic interests in the Middle East. Putin and Medvedev have pursued these objectives through seeking good relations with virtually all the Middle East’s disparate actors and avoiding taking sides in the many disputes among them. Up to now, Moscow has been remarkably successful at this balancing act. Going forward, though, it may become more difficult for Moscow to do so.
Russia’s Policy toward the Middle East