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Russia focuses on eliminating Middle East terrorist threat

Increased terrorist activity in the Middle East has Russia rethink its foreign policy, and support the Arab League's intention of a "comprehensive treaty of collective security."
Russia's President Vladimir Putin oversees large-scale military exercises at the Raevsky training ground in Krasnodar Region March 29, 2013. Putin ordered large-scale military exercises in the Black Sea on Thursday, projecting Russian power towards Europe and the Middle East in a move that may vex neighbours.  REUTERS/Mikhail Klimentyev/RIA Novosti/Pool (RUSSIA - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY) THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS

In recent months, the Ukrainian crisis and the sharp deterioration in relations between Russia and the West have pushed the Middle East up the scale of Russia's foreign policy priorities. The sudden and rapid surge in terrorist activity in the Middle East and North Africa as well as the terrorists’ military successes in Iraq have determined Russia’s renewed focus on the region. Moreover, there is every reason to believe that — in concomitance with the first signs of improvement in the situation in Ukraine and the Kremlin’s increasing confidence that it will manage to weather down the critical impact of the sanctions war unleashed by the West on the Russian economy (Russian leaders even speak of useful domestic resource mobilization as a result of Western sanctions) — the importance of the Middle East will only continue to grow. This concerns Russia’s relations with the Arab world — as the latter unites in the fight against the Islamic State (IS) — as well as with non-Arab regional players such as Iran, Turkey and Israel.

Moscow has long tried to draw the attention of its foreign partners to the need to combat terrorist groups in Syria, which have now turned into the main force leading the fight against government forces in the country. Russia has expressed its full support for Iraq in its fight against IS, and very quickly took the decision to supply the first batch of Su-25 aircraft to Baghdad. Moscow also called the adoption of a resolution condemning the crimes of IS at a special session of the UN Human Rights Council on Sept. 1 "a landmark." At the same time, Russian diplomats stressed once again that the spike in the terrorist threat was in many respects the result of "an external unlawful military intervention in the internal affairs of states to serve a mercenary geopolitical agenda."

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