Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made a four-day trip to the Gulf in early March, stopping in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as part of a broader effort to boost Moscow’s ties with the region. Although the Gulf monarchies are traditionally considered of some of the U.S’s closest allies, relations between Russia and the Gulf have improved in recent years and there is potential for further cooperation going forward.
Russia’s interests in the Gulf are multifaceted, but key areas include energy, military affairs (especially arms sales), and investment, as well as regional conflicts, most prominently Syria. During his official meetings Foreign Minister Lavrov focused on economic cooperation, in particular Gulf investment in Russia, and negotiations over further coordination on Syria. Russian-Gulf commercial ties are especially relevant at the moment as Moscow is set to host several events next month, including the fifth ministerial session of the Russian-Arab Cooperation Forum, Arabia-EXPO 2019, and a meeting of the Russian-Arab Business Council. Part of Lavrov’s mission was to invite the Gulf countries to attend, and he no doubt made a major effort to persuade them to send high-level delegations. As yet, however, the Gulf monarchies have not showed a willingness to take part. Oxumağa davam et Lavrov’s Gulf trip highlights Russia’s growing regional role→
The civil war in Yemen that erupted in 2014 rapidly became a proxy fight, with a Saudi-led military coalition squaring off against the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, who have seized control of much of the western part of the country, including many of the major population centers. As a result, Yemen’s civil war has generated long-term geopolitical turmoil that extends well beyond the Gulf, drawing regional and global powers into the conflict. Russia in particular is playing a growing role of late, and as the war drags on with no end in sight, it continues to expand its footprint in the country. As it has in Syria, Russia seems to be outmaneuvering the West in Yemen. Moscow maintains close contact with all sides of the conflict and has offered its assistance in working toward a resolution, even as it pursues its own military, commercial, and maritime interests. Oxumağa davam et Russia’s Growing role in Yemen→
Russian President Vladimir Putin paid a surprise official visit to Azerbaijan, on September 27. The formal reason for his arrival was to hold talks with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev as well as to jointly attend the Ninth Interregional Russia-Azerbaijan Forum (Kremlin.ru, September 27; AzerNews, September 28). Local mass media in both Azerbaijan and Russia described Putin’s visit as a next significant step in improving the strategic partnership between the two countries (AzerNews, September 26).
Prior to sitting down together in Baku, the last time the two leaders spoke face-to-face was in Sochi, Russia, on September 1 (AzerNews, September 1). During that meeting, Putin and Aliyev signed several documents encompassing the economy, agriculture, tourism, and the defense sector. The most significant outcome of their talks was indeed a new $5 billion arms deal to purchase Russian-made weaponry. Moreover, President Aliyev stated that the number of bilateral military agreements will increase in the near future (Izvestia, September 3). Oxumağa davam et Could Vladimir Putin’s Visit to Azerbaijan Shift the Regional Balance of Power?→
Armenia’s dependence on Russia makes it a pivotal foothold of Moscow in the South Caucasus, as the only host country of a Russian military base in the region, as well as a member in the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), and the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). While the growing arms race in the region and the recent escalation of tensions in NagornoKarabakh increased the vulnerability of Armenia, Russia seems to have reinforced its ability to ensure full control over Armenia.Oxumağa davam et HOW DO RUSSIAN LOANS “HELP” ARMENIA TO MODERNIZE ITS MILITARY CAPABILITIES?→
The regional economic integration within the globalized world has been recognized as an important driver for economic growth and job creation. Hence, free trade is one of the essential points for future regional economic development that would lead to a more productive and competitive economic structure. In this respect, the Eurasian Economic Union, which came into force in 2015, aims to establish a single regional market with the elimination of all customs barriers between its Member States. Even though a number of Post-Soviet countries have already become members of the EEU, Azerbaijan has managed to maintain its neutral position in this regard. Oxumağa davam et Azerbaijan, Armenia and the Eurasian Economic Union: A Risky Game or an Opportunity?→
Since the emergence of ‘failed states’ in the Middle East and North Africa region driven by the so-called “Arab Spring” events, Russia has actively endeavoured to expand its influence across the region. In Libya – the country, which has suffered from bloody sectarian wars since 2011 and thus, became a terrorist haven, seemingly is a new target of Russian expansion. This expansion is driven by its economic interests as a major oil producer and supplier of arms, and by history.
Today Libya is a failed state. Western military intervention has caused all of the worst scenarios: nearly all embassies have closed, the south of the country has become a training camp for ISIS terrorists, and the northern coast a centre for migrant trafficking. Amid all these tensions and political instability, general-lieutenant Khalifa Haftar pretends to be the long-awaited strongman, who is able to end six-year long anarchy and chaos in Libya. General Haftar, who once was fighting alongside Muammar Qaddafi but then opposed his regime, now enjoys the full support of Russia in his fight against radical terrorist groups. Oxumağa davam et Forgotten lessons of Libyan War→
On November 30, OPEC secured a cut in oil production from 33.8 million barrels a day (b/d) to 32.5 million b/d. As cheap oil from the global oil glut created budgetary shortfalls in oil-producing countries across the world, the severe economic challenges facing petro-states led to this special agreement, which is OPEC’s first to cut oil output since 2008, and the first time that non-OPEC Russia will back the cartel’s cuts to prop up prices since 2001. This unexpected decision sparked a huge rally in the price of both oil and gasoline. Given the state of regional turmoil from Syria to Yemen, however, it is legitimate to ask if politics will cause the agreement to fall apart in 2017.
The agreement was designed to reduce the production in global oil markets. It was successful despite pessimistic forecasts leading up to last month’s meeting in Vienna.After all, OPEC’s April 2016 meeting, held in Doha, ended with no deal, as member countries did not reach any consensus on the level of oil production. Iran participated in private talks led by Qatar, which currently holds the Oxumağa davam et Will the Oil Producing Giants’ Rare Cooperation Last?→