Russia Making Major Push Into Mideast Market

DUBAI — Following a decade of “near-absence” in the Middle East, Russia is once again asserting itself as it looks to sell arms to former Soviet-era clients while breaking into the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) market.

“Moscow’s policies again have become markedly more active,” said Dimitry Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center. “During his presidency, Vladimir Putin made trips to the region and paid a visit to Tehran, the first one since Stalin’s wartime allied conference journey.

“However, Russia’s policies are not yet embedded within some overall strategy and are largely driven by a set of pragmatic considerations. Russia’s principal objectives are to advance its economic interests and to counter threats to Russia’s national security,” Trenin wrote in a paper for the Washington-based Century Foundation.

Yuri Baramin, a UAE-based Russian political and military analyst, said the Russian approach to the Middle East can be described as a “wait and see approach.”

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NATO planning for possible Syria missions, official says

The top U.S. military commander in Europe said Tuesday that NATO is conducting contingency planning for possible military involvement in Syria and American forces would be prepared if called upon by the United Nations and member countries.

“We are prepared if called upon to be engaged,” Stavridis told the Senate Armed Services Committee. Continue reading