The Russian invasion of Ukraine is having a geopolitical ripple effect across the globe. Russian allies and adversaries alike are feeling tensions on their shores and are unaware of what the future may look like. The middle east is no different. Russia is known as being a proxy in international conflicts, particularly in the Middle East and Northern Africa, and as they begin to flex their military muscles on Ukraine, the middle east may get the sharp end of the stick. The geopolitical implications of the Russian invasion can be divided into two categories. Russian allies and Russian adversaries.
How are Russian allies like Iran being impacted by the invasion of Ukraine?
Assertive military strategy has shocked the world in the past few weeks, but it’s nothing new for Iran. For decades, Iran has initiated a program to produce uranium with hopes of obtaining a nuclear weapon in the future. Throughout the Obama administration, Iran was under the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA) that inhibited their ability to produce Uranium by roughly 98%, but the agreement later crumbled under the Trump administration. Back under a democratic administration, the United States is seeking to strike another deal with Iran, but talks have entered a stalemate. A Russian invasion of Ukraine presents Iranian leaders with the silver bullet they’ve been hoping for to keep western powers off of their tale. As the United States is focusing its diplomatic time and resources on isolating Russia, Iran is being swept under the rug.
This is so dangerous as many leaders and diplomats believe there is little time left to save the JCPOA, and as Iran strengthens its ties with Moscow amidst an invasion of Ukraine, the timer may be up for Iranian nuclear containment.
How are western allies being impacted by the invasion of Ukraine?
When it comes to condemnation of Russian actions, western allies in the Middle East seem to be some of the most reliable. There’s a common phenomena in the international community of smaller and weaker countries being afraid to contest the power of a super power like Russia due to fear of retaliation, but many Middle Eastern countries sit in a unique position. Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Egypt are all relatively economically independent of Russia. They don’t trade many goods nor are their energy grids super reliant on Russia. This makes these countries in the correct geopolitical position to condemn Russia, all of which have done so.
On the flip side, countries like Lebanon are rather dependent on Ukraine for products like wheat. (60% of Ukraine’s wheat goes to just Lebanon) This gives Lebanon a stake in the conflict. If Russia annexes Ukraine like it did with Crimea in 2014, food security could be looking rather bleak.
Ultimately, it is in the interest of obviously the west and NATO allies, but also western allied arab and gulf states to keep Russian aggression at a minimum. Otherwise, their livelihood could be at stake.