Dmitri Trenin, the current director of the Moscow based think-tank the Carnegie Moscow Center, raises a question that has been the interest of many nowadays, owing to recent developments in the Middle East. A turbulent region shaken by constant political and military conflicts and outside interventions, the Middle East is now witnessing an ongoing war, namely the Syrian civil war, which has welcomed Russia to meddle in defense of the Assad regime through military intervention. Moscow’s interest in the region is not new; the Middle East drew Russia’s attention during the Cold War and even before. Trenin addresses the Syrian War as well as Russia’s relations with the other states in the region at different levels of transactions. The book functions as a kind of introductory essay for Russian-Middle East relations, aiming to give simple hints about Russia’s involvement in Middle East affairs.
Trenin begins by expressing his apprehension about the many wrong interpretations of Russia’s involvement in the Middle East due to misrepresentation, misinformation and media bias. According to Trenin, this book aims to correct these errors by clarifying Russia’s role in the region. He does not directly answer the question of the title; instead he delves into the historical relations between Russia and the Middle East region since the times of the Tsars. Instead of giving causal arguments one by one, Trenin analyzes the interstate affairs that arose over time around conflicts of interests, the economy, and regional and international developments.