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How Russia maneuvers between Saudi Arabia, UAE in Yemen

Moscow exercises hedging strategy in Yemen to preserve good times with Riyadh and Abu Dhabi.

On Aug. 10, Russian Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations Dmitry Polyanskiy told reporters that Russia views the conflict in Yemen as “one of the most concerned topics on our agenda,” but he refused to comment on the Southern Transitional Council's (STC's) seizure of Aden. Polyanskiy’s ambiguous remarks did not include a reference to Russia’s support for Yemen’s territorial integrity and differed from the pro-unity statements released by the United States and the European Union in response to the clashes in Aden.

Russia’s cautious reaction to the STC’s triumph in Aden reveals its desire to remain nonaligned as the interests of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) diverge in Yemen. Moscow’s hedging strategy also reflects the Russian expert community’s uncertainties about the depth and longevity of Saudi-UAE disagreements on Yemen. On the pessimistic end of the spectrum, Sergey Serebrov, a Yemen expert at the Moscow-based Institute of Oriental Studies, recently argued that the conflict in Yemen was no longer a “civil war” but the “product of the military intervention of the Arab coalition.” Other Russian analysts, like defense expert Kirill Semenov, dismissed the prospect of an “open Saudi-UAE conflict in Yemen” and noted the UAE’s cautious public statements on events in Aden.

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