“I shall be an autocrat, that’s my trade”. Thus quipped the Empress of Russia, Catherine the Great, who stamped Russian authority onto the international stage, seizing vast swathes of territory and establishing Russia as a formidable power in the middle of the eighteenth century. It appears that Vladimir Putin has taken her example to heart.Buoyed up by high energy prices, Putin has embarked on an aggressive foreign policy agenda which seeks to re-establish Russia as a pre-eminent international power in opposition to what it perceives to be American and European hegemony. This foreign policy agenda is based around two primary goals, namely tightening Russian control over the former Soviet Republics and tightening alliances and friendships with like-minded states and in areas of strategic importance.

To Israel’s detriment, it appears that Moscow has identified the Middle East as a primary region through which to recapture its former international significance. Russia has sought to present itself to the Arabs as a more neutral arbiter than the U.S. in order to increase its international influence in this strategic region of the world.