What You Need to Know About Playing Russia

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--By any measure, Russia is one of the world’s most powerful nations. It has a huge military, nuclear weapons, and a permanent veto on the UN Security Council. When Russia talks, people listen: choose your words carefully.

--Russia is developing a new policy in the Middle East, designed to counter what it sees as the arrogance of the United States and its absolute support of Israel. Many Arabs are eager to work with Russia, in the hopes that Russia will be able to counter America’s total hegemony over the region.

--Russia is a member of the “Quartet” of parties that are currently charged with trying to find a solution to the Middle East crisis, along with the US, EU, and UN. Russia has declared its support for the “Road Map” and “Abdullah Plan” and is ready to endorse whichever agreement seems most likely to produce a peace based on UN Resolution 242, which calls for the withdrawal of Israel to its 1967 borders. 

--Russia would like to supply the Middle East with its technology, especially its weaponry. Russia is not interested in doing this irresponsibly, but it is currently seeking new potential clients amongst countries that usually buy their weapons from America and Europe.

--Russia has a large Muslim population, and some of these Muslims are engaged in a brutal separatist war against the Russian government, and have committed acts of terrorism against Russian civilians. Russia is very sensitive to terrorism, especially Islamic terrorism.

--Russia is completely opposed to solving regional problems through force, and will be at the forefront of any resistance to attempts by the US, Israel, or any other party to start a new regional war. Exceptions to this opposition have come in cases such as Georgia, Ukraine, and Syria, when it felt that its regional hegemony has been threatened, particularly by the expansion of NATO.

--Russia is a steadfast ally of the Syrian government, and seeks stability in Syria where it has a naval port and regional strategic interests. Its actions in Syria have buttressed President Assad's government, but it is likely the case that Russia has less invested in Assad per se, than it does in seeking regional stability. Russia's actions during the Civil War have fit with this stance, resisting Western efforts to unseat Bashar Assad or to restrain his military, who have often acted brutally towards the civilian population.

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