In a truly contemporary analysis of Moscow's relations with its neighbors and other strategic international actors, Gvosdev and Marsh use a comprehensive vectors approach, dividing the world into eight geographic zones. Each vector chapter looks at the dynamics of key bilateral relationships while highlighting major topical issues—oil and energy, defense policy, economic policy, the role of international institutions, and the impact of major interest groups or influencers—demonstrating that Russia formulates multiple, sometimes contrasting, foreign policies. Providing rich historical context as well as exposure to the scholarly literature, the authors offer an incisive look at how and why Russia partners with some states while it counter-balances others.
Chapter 8: The Near-Eastern Vector
The Near-Eastern Vector
The Russian lands have always had close connections to the Arab and Islamic worlds. One of the first descriptions of the Rus’ comes from Ahmad ibn Fadlan, who was an emissary of the Caliph of Baghdad who visited the areas that were to become Russia in the 10th century.1 Prince Vladimir of Kiev seriously considered adopting Islam as the state religion of his realm before settling on Eastern Orthodox Christianity in 988. Nevertheless, even the choice of Orthodoxy meant that Russia would forge links with the Eastern Christian communities living in the Middle East. Moreover, the position of Kievan Rus’ as the facilitator of the famous trade route “from the Varangians to the Greeks” meant that it served as a ...