The CSS Blog Network

Hegemonic Designs in the Middle East Clash

Image courtesy of Kremlin.ru. (CC BY 4.0)

This article was originally published by YaleGlobal Online on 17 April 2018.

The Iran-Russia-Turkey nexus could be potent, but suffers from clashing strategic goals and internal contradictions

Western media are preoccupied by limited airstrikes from the United States, Britain and France in the Damascus area, in response to a chemical attack, as well as Russia’s “hybrid warfare” strategy against the West. Amidst many distractions, Vladimir Putin’s own fixation with his country’s emergence as a major player in the Middle East and its implications for regional stability do not receive ample attention. Russia is striving to increase its strategic visibility and sphere of influence in the Middle East, and US President Donald Trump, by pursuing his transactional foreign policy, is unwittingly presiding over the demise of traditional US strategic dominance in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world.

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Strategic Trends 2018

US President Donald Trump returns to the White House after addressing the Republican Congressional Retreat, 1 February 2018. Yuri Gripas / Reuters

Strategic Trends 2018: The CSS has published its annual analysis of major developments in world affairs. The four topics covered include whether or not emerging trends suggest the US could become a less reliable partner for Europe; why Russia and China are likely to continue building closer relations; the potential impact of energy technologies on international politics; and how resilience can act as an instrument of deterrence.

CLICK HERE to download the publication.
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Economic Ties between Russia, China, the US and the EU in 2016

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This graphic plots the volume of trade between Russia, China, the US and the EU in 2016. For more on the China-Russia relationship, see Brian Carlson’s chapter for Strategic Trends 2018 here. For more CSS charts, maps and graphics on economics, click here.

Control of the Syrian Airspace: Russian Geopolitical Ambitions and Air Threat Assessment

Image courtesy of Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation. (CC BY 4.0)

This article was originally published by the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) on 14 April 2018.

Russia has mounted its anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) footprint in the Levant and also boosted the Syrian Arab Air Defense Force’s capabilities. Syrian skies now remain a heavily contested combat airspace and a dangerous flashpoint. Moreover, there is another grave threat to monitor at low altitudes. Throughout the civil war, various non-state armed groups have acquired advanced man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS), which pose a menacing challenge not only to the deployed forces, but also to commercial aviation around the world. In the face of these threats, NATO needs to draw key lessons-learned from the contemporary Russian operational art, and more importantly, to develop a new understanding in order to grasp the emerging reality in Syria. Simply put, control of the Syrian airspace is becoming an extremely crucial issue, and it will be a determining factor for the war-torn country’s future status quo.

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Russia´s Propaganda War about Syria: How Pro-Kremlin Twitter Accounts Manipulate the West

Image courtesy of Walkerssk/Pixabay

This article was originally published by the Finnish Institute of International Affairs (FIIA) in March 2018.

Moscow is keen to exploit the conflict in Syria in its information war against the West. Russian messaging on Syria is meant to help expel Americans from the country. It is also aimed at discrediting the liberal ideas that have long defined the West.

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