Ariel Center for
Policy Research



NATIV   ■   Volume Fourteen   ■   Number 4-5 (81-82)  ■  September 2001   ■  Ariel Center for Policy Research




Russia and the Mideast Vacuum

Ilan Berman

Practically unnoticed, Russia has regained its status as a major power in the Middle East. Over the past several years, Moscow has expanded its sphere of influence beyond its “near abroad” and into the Gulf and Levant. There, it has worked to alter the regional balance of power and fill the vacuum left by American diplomacy.

Russia’s regional policy is both multifaceted and ambitious. Through its relationship with Tehran, Moscow has furthered the Islamic Republic’s quest for weapons of mass destruction and complicated the West’s access to Caspian basin energy. Through its efforts to undermine the international sanctions regime against Baghdad and supplant the United States as chief broker of the Middle East peace process, Russia has attained growing control of regional diplomacy. And through arms sales and proliferation, the Kremlin has reestablished ties with a host of traditional client states, tilting them conclusively back into its orbit. Now, Russia stands poised to become the preeminent power in the Gulf, much to the detriment of both the United States and its regional allies, Turkey and Israel.

In this article, “Russia and the Mideast Vacuum”, the author explores the tools with which the Kremlin has sought to achieve regional dominance, control over Caspian and Gulf energy, and the creation of an anti-Western coalition aimed at ousting American influence from the region.

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