Although usually described as an “Eastern European” or “Eurasian Power,” contemporary Russia in the past decade has emerged as major actor in the Middle East. Moscow has demonstrated an unusual ability both to apply military force effectively and to practice diplomacy deftly, juggling and expanding ties not just with American adversaries like Syria and Iran, but also with American partners such as Israel, Turkey, and Egypt. Russia’s seeming success appears all the more remarkable given the routine dismissal of Russia by American observers as a declining power. What is the historical background of Russia as a Middle Eastern power? Is Russia’s success in the region real and what explains it? How sustainable is it? And what does Russia’s role in the Middle East mean for America?
Michael A. Reynolds, a Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, is Director of Princeton University’s Program in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies, and Associate Professor in Princeton’s Department of Near Eastern Studies. His teaching and research ranges over the geography of the Middle East and Eurasia and covers the themes of empire, international relations, nationalism, geopolitics, ethnic conflict, and religion and culture. He is the author of Shattering Empires: The Clash and Collapse of the Ottoman and Russian Empires, 1908-1918 (Cambridge University Press, 2011), co-winner of the 2011 American Historical Association’s George Louis Beer Prize, a Financial Times book of the summer, and a Choice outstanding academic title, and is the editor of Constellations of the Caucasus: Empires, Peoples, and Faiths (Markus Weiner, 2016). Currently he is at work on a biography of Enver Pasha, hero of the Young Turk Revolution and Ottoman Minister of War during WWI.
In addition to his historical research, Reynolds writes on contemporary issues related to Turkey, Russia, the Kurds, Azerbaijan, the North Caucasus, and US foreign policy. He has written for The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, The National Interest, and Newsweek. He has held fellowships and grants from the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library, the Smith Richardson Foundation, Harvard University’s Olin Institute for Strategic Studies, Fulbright IIE, American Research Institute in Turkey, IREX, and NCEER and others. He holds a PhD in Near Eastern Studies from Princeton, an MA in Political Science from Columbia, and a BA in Government and Slavic Languages from Harvard.