Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts Russia’s Southern Strategy

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The Russian Federation is pursuing an active and wide-ranging strategy to reassert and strengthen its dominant position in the greater Black Sea region, which the Kremlin believes is critical for the restoration of Russia’s great power status. Consolidation of the Russian position in this region will establish and enhance the military, political, and economic foundations of Russia’s position as a great power. Throughout the “four basins” of this region (Caspian, Black, Eastern Mediterranean, and Persian Gulf), Moscow aims to make itself the indispensable partner for settling conflicts and constructing and maintaining regional security and economic arrangements. The Russian approach has three main prongs. First, the Russia- Republic of Azerbaijan relationship is the new template for how Russia plans to conduct its relations with the countries of the Black Sea, in place of the confrontational approach that has characterized the Russia-Georgia and Russia-Ukraine relationships. Second, the Caspian Convention—successfully concluded after years of deadlock when Russia accepted compromises with its neighbors in return for keeping outside powers out of the process—provides a model for Russian approaches in other parts of the region. Third, Russia seeks to export these approaches to other parts of the greater Black Sea region, the Syrian Arab Republic and the Eastern Mediterranean, and the Persian Gulf.

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