Russian Looks to Middle East in 2021

  • Russia is interested in permanent agreements with Iran.
  • Syria is an outpost for Russia in the Middle East.
  • Vladimir Putin is not interested in the former Soviet Bloc Asian nations.

Russia has multiple formats pertaining to its own foreign policy. Russia has large ambitions in the Middle East. These interests will be even more clear in 2021. Currently, the Kremlin has three prioritized directions. However, Russia seems to not be as interested in the former Soviet Bloc Asian nations.

These prioritized directions are as follows:

  1. The continuation of the close relationship with the Syrian president Bashar al Assad.
  2. The permanent integration with Iran regarding trade and strategic interests.
  3. A power play to strengthen relationships with nations that have been ignored or attacked by Trump’s policies.
The Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) is an economic union of states located in central and northern Asia and Eastern Europe. The Treaty on the Eurasian Economic Union was signed on 29 May 2014 by the leaders of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia, and came into force on 1 January 2015.

For Russia, Syria is an outpost in the Middle East to further Russian interests in the region. It should be noted that the Russian presence in Syria continues to increase.

The promotion of Russian interests in the Middle East is primarily associated with the successful completion of the normalization of the situation in Syria, as well as the choice of strategy for an interaction with the other countries in the Middle East.

The US President, Donald Trump, managed to make the relationship between the US and Iran non-existent. The murder of Qasem Soleimani earlier this year by the US has escalated tensions. Additionally, the recent murder of the Iranian nuclear expert Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.

However, no one claimed responsibility for the latest murder. Nevertheless, Iran believes that Israel is responsible with the aid of other nations, including the US. To note, these accusations have not been proven or disproven at this time.

The Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) already has experience pertaining to trade with Iran. It is highly likely that Iran will be interested in cooperation with Russia on a permanent basis.  The trade agreements will include arms deals, as well as the export/import of consumer goods.

It would be very challenging for the newly-elected US President, Joe Biden, to normalize relations with Iran, even if he attempts to resurrect the JCPOA agreement.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) known commonly as the Iran nuclear deal or Iran deal, is an agreement on the Iranian nuclear program reached in Vienna on July 14, 2015, between Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council—China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States—plus Germany) together with the European Union.

One of the nations ignored or attacked by the Trump administration is China. China is a dangerous nation, with a history of dishonest practices and the theft of intellectual property. The Coronavirus pandemic spread is the sole fault of China.

Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kazakhstan are still undeveloped nations. These three nations have an increase in radical Islamist views. These countries are very poor. On the other hand, China is interested in these Asian nations. The reason is the strategic location to expand trade routs beyond the Silk Road initiative.

It seems Russian strategy is geared more towards the Middle East versus Central Asia. Nevertheless, it does not discount Russian interests in the region. President Putin has clear plans on the Russian geopolitical agenda and strategy. It is unlikely they will be challenged in 2021.

Thus far, Russia is forging ahead. At the same time, the Coronavirus pandemic has delayed many projects for the majority of the nations around the globe.

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Christina Kitova

I spent most of my professional life in finance, insurance risk management litigation.

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