Russia and the Arab Spring: from Understanding to Condemnation
The main features of the post-Soviet policy Russia was pursuing in the Middle East at the turn of the century were the following: rejecting messianic ideas, great-Powerness and confrontation. Russia became more pragmatic; its policy stopped being “pro”, such as “pro-Arab” or “pro-Israeli”. Basically, Russia tried to follow its own interest, placing the emphasis, first of all, on mutually beneficial collaboration. Competition with the West for dominance in the region did not play the defining role for Moscow any more.
Russia preferred to stay away from Washington’s affairs, although “pointed out unnecessary mistakes of its regional policy in quite a discreet way, not willing to confront, but, on the contrary, looking for possible ways to collaborate”. The 2003 events in Iraq can be called the primary example of this, since Russia did not try to prevent the US-led military operation against Saddam Hussain’s regime. A certain part of the Russian political elite was calling for “protecting the amicable Iraq regime”, but was retorted by Vladimir Lukin, the head of the International Affairs Committee: “Again we dreamt of being crowned as the world’s finest peacemakers… and that resulted in damaging relations with the USA administration which deserved much more care and respect”