How Has the Invasion of Ukraine Reshaped Russia’s Influence in the Middle East?

05 August 2022

The Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, 5 August 2022


On August 4, AGSIW, the University of Haifa, and the National Security Studies Center hosted a discussion examining Gulf-Russia relations since Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Speakers: Anna Borshchevskaya, Senior Fellow, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy Li-Chen Sim, Assistant Professor, Khalifa University Alexander Tabachnik, Research Fellow, University of Haifa Ambassador William Roebuck, Executive Vice President, AGSIW (Moderator) Russia has emerged as a key power broker and military actor in the Middle East. In 2015, it sent its air force and a limited number of ground troops to Syria and saved President Bashar al-Assad’s regime from what looked like certain defeat. Using its success in Syria as a springboard, Russia has transformed old relationships throughout the region and forged new ones. It has increased arms sales to Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt. Furthermore, Moscow has driven forward the OPEC+ agenda and has worked closely with Riyadh to keep the group of OPEC and non-OPEC oil producers compliant with production cuts. However, Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine, the underperformance of the Russian army in that conflict, and the severe Western sanctions imposed on Russia have had a tremendous impact on international security and the international balance of power, including in the Middle East. What are Russia’s foreign policy goals in the Middle East? How have these goals been affected by its invasion of Ukraine? How have Middle Eastern, specifically Gulf, governments reacted to the war in Ukraine? How have Russia’s relations with Gulf oil producers impacted global energy markets and the ability of the United States and Western allies to enforce sanctions on Russia? With most Middle Eastern countries heavily dependent on the importation of grains and fertilizer from Russia and Ukraine, how have countries in the region positioned themselves to ensure food security? As some Gulf countries look to reestablish relations with Assad, how do their relationships with Russia affect this calculus? And can countries weary of Iranian influence in the region push Russia to reduce relations with Tehran in return for international support for Moscow? AGSIW, the University of Haifa, and the National Security Studies Center hosted a discussion looking at these questions and more.


The original broadcast is available here: