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Russia and the Persian Gulf: Trade, Energy, and Interdependence


This article examines changes in Russia’s diplomatic, trade, and energy relations in the Persian Gulf over time. Our data suggest that Russia’s profile in the Persian Gulf is rising in the post-Cold War period. While Russian-Gulf state trade has not reached high levels, trade and energy cooperation have increased significantly. These changes do not mean that Russia has jettisoned strategic interests in the Middle East writ large — as its support of Syria, or to some extent Iran, may indicate — or that it no longer seeks to balance against Washington. But it appears that in the mix of its foreign policy motivations, trade and commerce with Arab Gulf states matter much more now than they did in the past. Should such ties continue to strengthen, they may give Russia greater reason to cooperate with Arab Gulf states on contentious regional issues.

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