Russia and the Arab Spring

Vladimir Putin with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi

Russia and the Arab Spring

Monday, 26 April 2021 - 5:00pm to 6:30pm
Dr Derek Averre (CREES, Birmingham)
Professor Roy Allison (St Antony's) & Dr Oliver Ready (St Antony's)
Russian and Eurasian Studies Centre Monday Seminar

This seminar presentation will examine how Russia has negotiated a decade of turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Among the key questions to be discussed are:

  1. To what extent is Russia’s policy in the MENA region opportunistic, driven purely by the egoistic interests of the governing elite under Putin, and to what extent is it shaped by a foreign policy philosophy based on distinct national beliefs?
  2. How are these beliefs manifested in Russia’s approach to international law and the norms of international society, including humanitarian norms? How has Russian foreign policy thinking shaped and been shaped by events in MENA in this respect?
  3. Could Russia’s military involvement in Syria’s civil war signal further interventions to support authoritarian governments in order to consolidate Russia’s positions in regions of perceived strategic importance?
  4. What are the material and diplomatic constraints on Russian power, in terms of the polices of the major external and regional powers and of Russia’s own internal political, economic and social conditions?
  5. Are Russian approaches to MENA, privileging order over legitimate demands for social change, an expression of its preoccupation with its own conservative domestic order and concerns over pro-democracy movements?
  6. How has the Arab Spring impacted on Russia’s relations with the Western liberal democracies: will it inevitably seek to challenge Western interests? Might we expect cooperation in stabilising the MENA region or is there likely to be an enduring rivalry barely constrained by multilateral institutions and agreements?

Derek Averre is Reader in Russian Foreign and Security Policy and former Director of the Centre for Russian, European and Eurasian Studies at the University of Birmingham. He has published three co-edited books: New Security Challenges in Postcommunist Europe: Securing Europe's East (Manchester University Press 2002, with Andrew Cottey), The Ukraine Conflict: Security, Identity and Politics in the Wider Europe (Routledge 2018, with Kataryna Wolczuk) and Security, Society, and the State in the Caucasus (Routledge 2018, with Kevork Oskanian), as well as numerous book chapters and articles in International Affairs, European Security, Problems of Post-Communism, Europe-Asia Studies, Demokratizatsiya and other journals.