Putin's Middle East Visit: Russia Is Back

[Heritage Foundation] Ariel Cohen - Vladimir Putin's visit to Saudi Arabia on Feb. 11 was the first ever for any Russian or Soviet leader. Putin also visited U.S. allies Jordan and Qatar. Coming from Munich, where Putin delivered his most bellicose anti-American speech, he further delineated a Russian Middle Eastern policy at odds with Washington's in an interview with Al-Jazeera. Also during his visit to the Saudi capital, Putin stunned the world with an offer to sell Saudi Arabia "peaceful" nuclear reactors. In addition, he offered 150 T-90 tanks and other weapons. King Abdullah I of Saudi Arabia bestowed the King Faisal Award on Putin, calling him "a statesman, a man of peace, a man of justice." Russia is following the Soviet model of opposing first the British and then the U.S. presence in the Middle East by playing to anti-Western sentiment in the "street" and among the elites. Russia is using weapons and nuclear reactors the way imperial Germany used railroads - to bolster influence and to undermine the dominant power in the Middle East. The writer is a Senior Research Fellow at the Heritage Foundation.

2007-03-06 01:00:00

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