February 2019 In from the Cold: Russia’s Agenda in the Middle East and Implications for the EU
Marco Siddi Senior Research Fellow FIIA - The Finnish Institute of International Affairs

Abstract

Russian foreign policy in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) forms part of a comprehensive strategy, aimed at undercutting what it perceives as Western supremacy in the international sphere. For this purpose, a process was set in motion by the skilful use of opportunities, arising in particular from the lack of a political solution and of concerted military action in Syria by those calling for Bashar al-Assad to step down.

On the other hand, in the perception of several regional leaders, Russia emerged as a consistent actor, sticking to allies and proving reliable, while being appreciated for favouring the preponderant authoritarian status quo. The resulting open-ended endeavour, where Moscow reshapes the regional order by building strategic partnerships and engaging in military intervention, carries implications for all interested actors, including the European Union (EU).