In this essay I will study Russia and their interests in the Middle East. I will start this essay with a short overlook of Russia and their foreign policy. Then I will examine their policy in the Middle East. Further will I look into Russia and its reason for the invitation of Hamas after the 2006 election in Palestine. The reason for this is to get an overview of how Russia applies their policy. Then I will have a short look at the consequences of the Russian policy in the Middle East before I finish of with a conclusion.
Russia and foreign policy
Putin started to concentrate more on foreign policy around 2001. Putin tried to put an end to the Yeltsin period rather disorganized foreign policy and start his own foreign policy. . Yeltsin’s dwindling public support, combined with his lack of personal prestige within his own inner circle, had led to considerable freelancing by a variety of groups and institutions in their spheres of responsibility or interest. Among these groups you could find the foreign ministry, branches within the military, Minatom (nuclear power agency), the fuel and energy ministry, the parliament and some of the oligarchs. If we look at Russian foreign policy today there have been a lot of changes. The freelancing has been eliminated. Putin and his administration are now in charge of the foreign policy. Russia has become more predictable in it dealing the recent years. Russia has also exercised regional power in a different way from how it used to. Putin began in winter 2004 with a project of increasing Russian influence in the Middle East. Putin meant that Russia should have a greater role in this region. There were two reasons for this: Firstly, the US (the foreign dominant player in the region) was occupied both in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that made way for Russia to take initiative. Secondly the rise in oil prises had strengthened the Russian economy and given Moscow the ability to pay back the debts made by the USSR to the Arab countries, and therefore Russia could start with black sheets in building up a relationship.
Policy in the Middle East
Russia’s policy en the Middle East can be determined by several different factors. I have picked out a couple of important factors which I going to explain further underneath. Firstly Russia is still building itself up from the cold war. Under Putin Russia have had some major reconstructions as a military and economical power. Russia wants to regain their status as a superpower and wants to be a big player in the international community. Russia has always seen upon itself as a cosponsor in the Middle East peace process. Today it looks like Russia would like to be a real contributor to the peace process, partly to sustain its global prestige, and partly because the solutions proposed by the other members of the Quartet are not working and the situation is steadily deteriorating. Moscow believes it could be a helpful mediator with nations that are labelled as "rogue states" in the West. Russia further thinks that open dialogue and communication is a better alternative than political pressure and confronting with the Middle East players such as Hamas and Iran.
Secondly Russia is eager to prevent negative effects that follow from military actions in the Middle East. If there is going to be a military operation in Iran there could be regional implications as well. An operation could destabilize the Caspian region, primarily Azerbaijan. This could be a problem since there are around 20 million ethnic Azerbaijani living in Iran. If there is any instability in the region this could result in a flood of refugees. Further would a defeat of the coalition forces in Afghanistan have severe consequences for Russia. Taliban will probably retaliate, and that will hit Central Asia and maybe Russia itself. Then Russia will have to fur fill its commitment under the Collective Security Treaty Organization and give some guarantees to...