Russia’s growing economic ties with the Middle East

Kuwait Emir Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin
Kuwait Emir Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin at a meeting in Sochi in 2015. Kuwait is investing some $1 billion in Russia (source: dpa)
  • Russia’s economy has been resilient despite sanctions and low oil prices
  • More investment is flowing to the Middle East from Russia’s energy sector
  • Oil, gas and nuclear projects in the region have attracted Russian interest
  • Growing commercial ties lay a foundation for longer-term political cooperation

Russia’s growing political and military role in the Middle East has captured international attention, especially since the country got involved in the Syrian conflict in 2015. Russia’s activities in the region, however, go much further and increasingly include economic and financial ties, a trend that has been on the rise since 2014. That year was a tough one for Russia. Its annexation of Crimea in February 2014 prompted Western governments, led by the United States and the European Union, to impose sanctions. These have restricted Russian access to international capital markets, making project financing more difficult.

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