April, 2016 Russia

Ian Black Middle East editor
Bombs hitting hospitals, doctors and rescue workers killed, civilians starving, scores of dead and injured every day – the raw, bleeding statistics of Syria’s unending war are making a nonsense of an already fragile truce and destroying the slim hopes that peace talks can even carry on.

  russia iran

By REUTERS 
Moscow has little incentive to join the mostly Shi'ite "Axis of Resistance" as this could ruin its ties with other regional powers such as Israel, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
DUBAI/MOSCOW - When Iran took delivery of the first parts of an advanced Russian air defense system this month, it paraded the anti-aircraft missile launchers sent by Moscow to mark Army Day.
 

 

Central Asia Caucasus Analyst, Eduard Abrahamyan
The recent unprecedented escalation around Nagorno-Karabakh highlighted deep systemic shortcomings in existing international mediation initiatives. The OSCE Minsk Group, dedicated to settling the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia, has become largely irrelevant in the new operational situation.

 

Dave Majumdar
Russian electronic-warfare powerhouse KRET—Concern Radio-Electronic Technologies—has started testing a powerful new ground-based jamming system that could cut the crucial data-links that enable the United States military to conduct operations around the world. The system is designed to be used in conjunction with advanced Russian-built air defense systems like the S-300V4 and S-400 to disrupt air operations.


Analysis 
Summary

Since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, tension with the West has been high, affecting eastern Ukraine, Syria and hot spots across the former Soviet sphere. Less overtly, Moscow has been working to protect areas vital to Russian interests by raising the stakes of U.S. operations there. This has manifested in numerous aggressive interceptions of U.S. military aircraft in flight, especially over the Black and Baltic seas. The interceptions, which are reportedly occurring more frequently, aim to dissuade Washington from operating in that airspace.

DEBKAfile Exclusive Report
The Israeli cabinet holds its weekly session Sunday April 17, on the Golan. Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu will visit Moscow on Thursday, April 21 to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin and to launch the most important battle of his political career, and one of Israel's most decisive contests of the last 10 years: the battle over the future of the Golan Heights.

Central Asia Caucasus Analyst, Armen Grigoryan
Tensions along the line of contact in Nagorno-Karabakh between April 2 and 5 resulted in the heaviest exchanges of fire since 1994. Even though the use of some types of weapons was quite unexpected, the general logic of developments in the conflict in recent years has made the recent fighting rather predictable. Concerning further hostilities, the question is not if, but when they will happen. While this danger needs to be addressed by means of international mediation, so far only Russia demonstrates substantial activity in this regard. Russia’s unilateral involvement will pursue its own particular regional interests rather than producing a lasting solution to the conflict.

Alex Fishman
Op-ed: The S-300 missile deal between Iran and Russia is more symbolic than an actual threat; Moscow has yet to transfer the missiles, but Israel should do everything it can to ensure its security in an increasingly militarized Middle East.

By Salman Rafi
While Russian troops have partially withdrawn from Syria, peace talks continue between U.S.- and Russian-led camps and also between countries at bilateral level as in the case of Russia and Israel.On March 15, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin visited Moscow to hold talks with President Vladimir Putin on Syria and the circumstances that led to Russian pull-out. According to Israeli media, the two leaders also discussed continued military coordination between Jerusalem and Moscow in Syria.


Project Syndicate, Shlomo Ben Ami
MADRID – After years on the sidelines, Russia is back at the center of the Middle East geostrategic game. Against the background of an equivocal United States policy, Russia’s calculated intervention in the Syrian civil war is a rare case in which a limited use of power in the region resulted in a major diplomatic shakeup.

Azerbaijan-Nagorno-Karabakh-Districts-111315-4

RUSSIA & CENTRAL ASIA
by Dmitriy Frolovskiy

The recent fighting outbreak in Nagorno-Karabakh, the worst in a twenty years period, reveals a sweeping complexity of the longstanding geopolitical chessboard that is the South Caucuses. Over the years, the frozen status of the ethnic Azeri-Armenian conflict has become a trump card for powers on both sides of the demarcation line. However, the augmenting rivalry between Moscow and Ankara, due to Russia’s involvement in the Syrian conflict and Erdogan-Putin rift over the downed Russian Su-2, threatens to dismantle the pragmatic state of affairs and fuel ethnic jingoism once again.


Pavel Koshkin, Ksenia Zubacheva, Olga Pylova 
Experts weigh in on President Vladimir Putin’s establishment of a National Guard in Russia, with a focus on what it might mean for the Kremlin’s approach to domestic security.
When Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the creation of a new National Guard on Apr. 5, it immediately raised questions about Russia’s approach to domestic security in the run-up to parliamentary elections in September 2016. Ostensibly, the new security body will focus on fighting terrorism and organized crime, including illegal drug trafficking. However, as some experts point out, the creation of the National Guard could indicate that Putin is concerned with his political future.

By Nikolas K. Gvosdev
America's next president will have to start all over with Russia.
In recent weeks, I have had the honor to attend different daylong seminars convened to ponder Russia's future under Vladimir Putin and the future of U.S.-Russia relations: a "Russia Experts Meeting" hosted by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, bringing together some of America's leading specialists in the Russia field, and a "Russia Futures" project, which assembled members of the Naval War College's faculty who study various different aspects of Russia, Europe and Eurasia policy.

By Paul J. Saunders
Moscow isn't sowing Middle East chaos to drive up oil prices.
Moscow’s promotion of instability in order to increase oil prices is one of the most popular theories concerning Russian foreign policy in the Middle East. Billionaire oil investor T. Boone Pickens recently expressed this view after Moscow’s recent intervention in Syria. The theory goes like this: Russia contributes to instability, which generates uncertainty, which raises oil prices. But is there any real evidence that raising oil prices is a major priority of Russia’s foreign policy?