Russia's foreign policy | Middle East | Director for Eurasia @JamesMartinCNS & Snr. Associate @CSIS | PhD Oxford Uni. | Berlin | Personal views & usual caveats
Nov 18 • 7 tweets • 2 min read
My latest research report - "Dangerous Decline" - looks at the future of #Russia's military & security influence across the Global South (arms sales, Wagner/PMCs, other military activities) & the implications for the United States.
5 key take-aways:🧵nonproliferation.org/wp-content/upl…1) Russia’s pivot to the Global South will intensify. Anticipating a long-term, systemic confrontation with Western states, Russia is prioritizing its power projection into the Global South, expecting economic, coercive, deterrent, and political benefits. /2
Oct 30 • 13 tweets • 3 min read
On balance, I still believe #Russia stands to gain more than to lose from a protracted conflict in #IsraelGaza.
But there are risks & vulnerabilities, as became clear yesterday, when an antisemitic mob stormed the #Makhachkala airport in Dagestan, looking for Jews.
On the "Russia gains" side, Moscow benefits from a protracted conflict in #Gaza in 3 ways, as I just argued in @nytopinion:
-for its ambitions in #Ukraine,
-for its own designs for the MidEast &
-most importantly, for its war of narratives w/the West: /2nytimes.com/2023/10/26/opi…
Oct 16 • 13 tweets • 3 min read
#Russia has not labeled last weekend's attacks on Israel by #Hamas "terrorism".
This is noteworthy and stands in contrast to Russian statements during the Second Intifada and the 2014 #Gaza War.
A🧵with some history 👇
Through the various rounds of violence in #Israel-#Palestine, Russian official statements have usually:
-stressed the need for a comprehensive peace process on the basis of Madrid
-called for an end of violence
-expressed concern over use of excessive military means by Israel /2
Oct 8 • 11 tweets • 2 min read
What do we know?
What can we say about #Russia's role and cost-benefit assessment regarding this situation?
1) #Russia-#Hamas relations are active and go way back. Moscow only recently hosted a Hamas delegation
Russia's also been active in intra-Palestinian mediation, trying to carve out a niche for itself on the peace process. The Russian Academy of Sciences has played a role here /1
Aug 21 • 10 tweets • 3 min read
10 yrs ago today -on Aug 21, 2013- the Syrian regime used chemical weapons (CW) against its people in #EasternGhouta.
#Syria has yet to be held to account for its CW attacks & for its retention of CW.
But #Russia is trying to remove the issue from the international agenda (1/)
Initially, there was cooperation between #Russia, the U.S. & others in the disarmament of #Syria's declared CW after the Eastern Ghouta attack.
@JobyWarrick offers the most comprehensive & compelling account of that disarmament operation in his non-fiction book “Red Line” (2/)
Jun 25 • 4 tweets • 1 min read
The predominant take on this platform is that yesterday's events revealed #Putin's weakness & vulnerability. The beginning of the end of his regime.
I think that's premature.
After all, Putin came out on top & there is so much we don't know about what exactly went down. (1/4)
It's conceivable that the corrosion of his rule is in motion. And more importantly, that the process will continue.
But there's also the possibility that the immense dysfunctionality of the system we observed yday can prove quite durable & not become dangerous to #Putin. (2/4)
Jun 21 • 9 tweets • 3 min read
I don't think I've ever seen the Russian strategic community engage in such intense public debate over nuclear use as over the past 1 week.
Here a summary of all contributions, for those who missed it:
Last yr #UkraineWar became the organizing principle of Russian foreign policy
1 Full turn to non-West
2 China’s junior partner
3 Less leverage vis middle powers
4 Struggle in the neighbourhood
5 Russia MFA sidelined
6 Wagner normalized
7 End of compartmentalization
1. Full turn to the non-West:
Judging its break with the West to be total & irreversible, Russia's leadership has intensified its (pre-existing) turn to #MENA, #Africa, #LATAM, #Asia-Pacific.
Shunned & sanctioned, Russia needs to make up for losses wherever it can... (2/22)
Jan 26 • 4 tweets • 2 min read
At Conference of Disarmament in Geneva yday, #Russia slightly more conciliatory on #NewSTART:
-"Important" that treaty continues to operate
-This fact means its parties "share an understanding of the risks emanating from a situation of strategic uncertainty and unpredictability"
-#NewSTART "keeps a window of opportunity open" for continued dialogue on strategic stability, with a focus on developing a possible agreement to replace it.
An OPEN THREAD 🧵
/1 RUS embassy in Germany: The decision will bring “permanent escalation”, “battle tanks with German crosses will again be sent to the ‘eastern front’ which will inevitably lead to the deaths of not only Russian soldiers, but also the civilian population” aljazeera.com/news/2023/1/25…
Oct 6, 2022 • 5 tweets • 5 min read
Not making headlines, the @OPCW Executive Council is in session this week.
Looking at statements issued at the Council this week, many - US, UK, Finland, Romania, Latvia, Germany, etc - recall #Navalny poisoning & bemoan lack of #Russian cooperation to date,...(2/5)
Oct 6, 2022 • 8 tweets • 6 min read
On #OPEC cuts: Narrative that "Saudi is screwing us (i.e. West) on oil" is part of the problem - as seen by many in the #MiddleEast.
They resent expectation that #Saudi "should help" keep prices low to a) mitigate fallout of #RussiaUkraineWar & b) cater to US domestic politics.
We may disagree, but do well to understand where they're coming from more broadly:
Since Feb, a reluctance in Gulf capitals (& elsewhere in #MiddleEast) to take action "with" the West "against" Russia in #RussiaUkraineWar (join sanctions, pump more oil) has had multiple layers:
Aug 26, 2022 • 18 tweets • 16 min read
6 months into #Russia’s aggression against #Ukraine, there are mostly losers.
One potential winner is #Turkey, given 2nd-order effects of the war.
Since Feb, Ankara has gained some leverage vis-a-vis both #Russia and #NATO.
Pushing back against Russia thus 1) takes extra effort & 2) is of strategic importance beyond #Ukraine (1/11)
For proof that #Russia is not isolated, look toward big parts of Asia, LatAm, Africa, Middle East. Voting patterns at #UNGA. Who hasn’t joint sanctions against #Russia. How media beyond the "West" reports on the war in #Ukraine. And most of all: Look at #China and #India. (2/11)
The #USA/#NATO have few good options for deterring #Russia’s use of #ChemicalWeapons (CW) in #Ukraine - or punishing such use after the fact, since “the toolkit of punishments includes the very deterrents that failed to change Moscow’s calculus in the first place.” /2
Russia’s tactics @OPCW & UNSC over CW use in #Syria & the Navalny poisoning offer good indications.
Bottom line: Attribution/accountability will be a very hard lift
A few weeks ago, US/#NATO officials raised alarm over possible Russian CW use in #Ukraine (framed by #Russia as false-flag op conducted by UA “radicals”), warning this would be “game changer” & would elicit an “aggressive response”. Yet, no clear red line was communicated. /2
Apr 6, 2022 • 6 tweets • 3 min read
Speaking w/some contacts in #Russia to try to understand evolving sentiments in society re: #RussiaUkraineWar, 3 factors stand out for me:
1. Adaptive behaviour 2. "Besieged fortress" 3. State propaganda working wonders
A thread. /11. Adaptive behaviour: Many Russians say "what is expected of them" - they support the #Kremlin on #Ukraine. They might (or not!) hold different views privately, but perceived social pressures + fear of reprisal drive adaptive behaviour - so you can best cope in everyday life /2
Mar 28, 2022 • 13 tweets • 9 min read
Having worked in Moscow when #Russia intervened in #Syria in 2015 & engaged RUS officials/experts on #Syria for yrs, I see 5 parallels in approach to #Ukraine vs #Syria
1. Sequential war: RUS recently termed 1st phase of #UkraineWar done, announcing focus on Donbas. In #Syria war, Russia had declared new phase in 2017, establishing de-escalation zones (DEZs) in Western parts, which freed up regime resources to take more territory toward the East
Mar 13, 2022 • 6 tweets • 3 min read
MUST READ. #UA negotiator M. Podolyak gives insights into #Russia-#Ukraine talks to @Kommersant. Bottom line: cautious hope that #Russian war aims lowered and negotiated settlement possible over time. Summary of main points from @kommersant 👇kommersant.ru/doc/5252292?fb…#Russia and #UA, after 3 meetings - Feb 28, March 3 and 7 - in Belarus keep "constantly" talking online now; in video talks, working groups have been created. Zelenskiy on the talks: the sides are talking, "and not just throwing around ultimatums";
Mar 11, 2022 • 6 tweets • 6 min read
For those interested in context, amid fears that #Russia might stage false-flag chem. (or bio) attack in #Ukraine, I've followed the #Russia#Chemical weapons dossier
Some background readings that might be useful (1/6)
After #US-#Russia cooperation in removing #Syria's declared CW in 2013-14, things unravelled, w/Russia obstructing efforts at attribution & accountability for CW use in Syria. Over time, rebels were blamed for staging "false-flag attacks". Long read: tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.108… (2/6)