Russian Advances in the Gulf

By Stephen Blank

All too often, Russian policy in the Middle East is perceived as tied mainly or exclusively to Syria and its ongoing civil war. But in fact, Moscow has long sought to expand its influence across the entire region; its intervention in Syria, in turn, has greatly heightened Russia’s ability and willingness to conduct that regional policy. That said, there has been relatively little foreign recognition of the country’s actual advances into the Gulf to date, even though Moscow has all along been using the traditional instruments of Russian diplomacy: arms sales, energy deals, clever and persistent diplomacy and, of course, force or the threat of its use.