Russia, the Middle East and the conflict in Syria
Russia’s growing international influence has become a topic of increasing interest to scholars and the policy community alike. Russia’s approach to Syria has reflected a wider set of ideas about the international system that were forming since well before the conflict started. Initial attempts by the external powers to find a resolution of the conflict foundered on important divergences in approach between Russia and Western states. Moscow’s approach came under intense scrutiny in August 2013 when an attack using CW, allegedly by Syrian government forces, killed at least several hundred people in Ghouta, including civilians. Russia’s intervention, which Moscow claimed was legitimate since it came at the invitation of the Syrian authorities, contributed materially to the renewal of efforts towards a political settlement. Cooperation between Moscow and Tehran has emerged as a central axis in the region. Three explanations have commonly been offered for Russia’s role in the Syria conflict and the wider MENA region.