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Russian Geopolitics in Mediterranean

Russian geopolitics in the Mediterranean are wider than Syria.

In our previous article, Syrian End Game, we discussed the reasons behind the recent Russian intervention in Syria.  Essentially, the Russians need to protect their only naval base in the Mediterranean which is located in Tartus, Syria.  In addition, they have an airbase in Latakia.

The move also supports the Shia alliance group – Asad, Iran and the Hezbollah.  This gives Russia some weight in the Middle East.   To strengthen this alliance, Russia approved sale of the S-300 missile, which is similar to US Patriot missiles, to the Iranians.

Recent gestures towards finding a solution mention nothing regarding Asad.  It looks like he or a successor will probably remain in power in any settlement in the future.

In addition to the airplanes employed in Syria, the Russians have dramatically ramped up their naval forces, battleships and submarines, in the Mediterranean.   They even got some rights in Cyprus to use the port.

All this point to further interests.  It looks like Russia will also contend for future energy contracts off the coast of Cyprus once the Greek and Turkish sides agree on a political settlement.  Remember that Russia is also heavily present in the Turkish energy sector with a multi-billion dollar contract to build a nuclear reactor on the Black Sea Coast of Turkey.  Thus, with the Turks behind a settlement on Cyprus and the close relationship between Russia and Cyprus due to cultural and religious ties, I expect the Russians to be involved in offshore energy projects off the coast of Cyprus.

Also keep in mind that the US and Europe might waive a carrot at the Russians to settle on Syria and possibly something positive on Ukraine for granting some rights in energy.

Investment wise, this might be positive for some of the Russian energy companies in the medium to long-term.

These developments are complex and inter-related.  The Russians are playing for a stronger hand at the negotiating table with all these moves.