Gevorg Mirzayan
Dmitriy Ofitserov-Belskiy
Last week saw increased international security concerns as North Korea claimed to have tested a hydrogen bomb and the conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran took another turn for the worse. However, there has been no credible evidence that North Korea actually did test such a device, and even if it did, little is known of the weapon's characteristics. Similarly, Saudi Arabia's provocative behavior could be nothing more than a show of force. Even so, Russia cannot ignore either of these events and the risks that they bring.
ПРЕМИУМ
18 january 2016 | 23:28

Review of the week: most important Russian foreign policy events

Last week saw increased international security concerns as North Korea claimed to have tested a hydrogen bomb and the conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran took another turn for the worse. However, there has been no credible evidence that North Korea actually did test such a device, and even if it did, little is known of the weapon's characteristics. Similarly, Saudi Arabia's provocative behavior could be nothing more than a show of force. Even so, Russia cannot ignore either of these events and the risks that they bring.

The balance of power in the Middle East

Officially, the Kremlin has taken a neutral position, calling on Saudi Arabia and Iran to show restraint and negotiate. In all likelihood, however, their future model of behavior has not been fully developed, and even the involvement of a majority of regional players will not solve such a dilemma.

For Moscow, Iran is one of its most important partners in the Middle East. Both countries are fighting terrorists together in Iraq and Syria. Moreover, because terrorism represents an existential threat to both states, they could cooperate against terrorism and other areas as well, such as in Afghanistan and Tajikistan.

On the other hand, Saudi Arabia stands in opposition to Russia in Syria, is said to be one of the key sponsors of international terrorism, and supports the sharp fall in energy prices that has blown a hole in the Russian budget.

At the same time, realistically it is just such a neutral position that Moscow needs to take. Firstly, taking part in the conflict directly on Iran's side would seriously complicate Russia's relations with other Arab states, primarily those that, like Egypt, have decided not to support Saudi Arabia's position and have not broken off relations with Iran.

Secondly, Iran does not need Russia's help in its conflict with Saudi Arabia. It is clear that if current trends in the region continue, Riyadh would lose a war of attrition.

Thirdly, Moscow is not interested in seeing the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia suddenly and rapidly collapse, as this would strengthen Iran too much. And the Kremlin needs a balance of power in the region. However, taking a position of neutrality certainly does not mean ignoring and keeping out of the conflict.

Even so, there is not going to be a major armed conflict between the two regional powers in the near future. Saudi Arabia's aggression should be seen not as the prologue to a major regional war, but as actions aimed at building a wider anti-Iranian coalition in the region.

North Korea's nuclear tests

North Korea has announced its latest nuclear test – this time a hydrogen device that, according to the North Korean authorities, brings the country's capabilities to “a new level.” 

 

Continue reading at Russia Direct

READ MORE ON THE TOPIC «Security»

31 may 2018 | 22:07

Reasons and consequences of Polish initiative on the placement of the USA military base

On the eve of the NATO summit, to be held in Brussels in July, the Polish Ministry of Defense issued an interesting report, titled “Proposal for a U.S. Permanent Presence in Poland”. Apart  from European and NATO diplomats who are going to meet in Brussels, Warsaw expects to influence the opinions of US Congressmen and Pentagon analysts. Considering that the Congressmen will vote soon for the US military budget, the Poles want their arguments to be well heard.

4 march 2014 | 23:00

What does Russia want in Ukraine?

Meanwhile, Western politicians have interpreted the authorization vote and the action in Crimea somewhat differently than Russian experts. So far, however, Russian authorities have been unmoved by threats of sanctions and visa bans, possibly because the stakes of backing down on Ukraine at the request of Western governments are higher than staying the course, as long as a full-scale war can be avoided.

16 may 2018 | 11:34

Russia and America’s Withdrawal from the Iran Deal

Russia is acting deeply disappointed in public. In response to Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement blaming the United States for “intractable” actions based on “narrow and opportunistic interests.” But Moscow was the least vocal among the dissatisfied—since no Russian vital interests are at stake and some actual benefits emerge. 

24 september 2014 | 23:00

Russia: ISIS in Syria should be bombed only with the permission of the UN or Bashar al-Assad

The United States and its Arab allies launched a series of airstrikes against ISIS in Syria, reportedly killing dozens of fighters. However, it is important to note that the U.S. took this action without a resolution from the UN Security Council – a step advocated by Moscow.

What′s your opinion on this?

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