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How Russian business could shape Mideast's future security architecture

Russia has been engaged in the Levantine oil and gas sectors for some time, but now Moscow could use that foothold to help build lasting security in the region.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades attend a signing ceremony following their talks at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia October 24, 2017. REUTERS/Sergei Chirikov/Pool - UP1EDAO1A9A8U
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Russia's 2015 military campaign in Syria entailed a build-up of its presence in the eastern Mediterranean. Since that time, Moscow has been promoting the idea of maintaining and restoring state institutions in war-torn Syria and Iraq. Moscow has helped forge a range of new regional crisis-management formats including the Astana peace talks to resolve the Syrian conflict and the Baghdad Joint Coordination and Information Center comprised of Iraqi, Iranian, Russian and Syrian representatives. These efforts have been accompanied by other activities such as Russia’s gradual inclusion into oil and gas projects in the region.

Large gas deposits have been discovered since the early 2010s in the territorial waters of the eastern Mediterranean states, among them the Zohr field off the Egyptian coast, the Tamar and Leviathan fields off Israeli shores and the Aphrodite field off the coast of Cyprus. The natural gas reserves in the Levantine Basin are estimated at at least 3.8 trillion cubic meters. The projects could not but interest Russia as the major gas exporter to Europe. Russian companies had explored the market prior to 2015, but the country’s increased military presence in the region with deployments to the Khmeimim Air Base whipped up further interest.

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