Russia’s Ambitious Military-Geostrategic Posture in the Mediterranean - Carnegie Europe on GEO´
By Can Kasapoglu & Sinan Ulgen - Carnegie Europe
Posted By: GEO´ PRChannel Team - Gibraltar

Russia’s steady development of military capabilities on the ground, in the air, and at sea has enhanced its overall military posture in the region. This experience, and lack of resistance from NATO, is likely to enhance Russia’s military posture and ambitions outside the Mediterranean.



 The Mediterranean is a significant component of Moscow’s military strategy: the basin provides an access point to southern Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. In the eyes of the Russian elite, the Mediterranean is also an arena of great power competition with the United States and NATO. Through a smart buildup of naval and anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) assets, as well as through clients like the Syrian Arab Army, the Kremlin strives to counter NATO’s presence in the region and protect Russia’s southern flank. Given the hardship facing Russian defense economics and the poor shape of the country’s shipyards, Moscow’s power-projection agenda in the Mediterranean is a far more realistic and effective strategy for the Russian Navy than the pursuit of a global blue-water posture to challenge U.S. naval supremacy.


In line with the grand design and geopolitical worldview of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russia’s military leadership has rigorously established a robust and ambitious strategic posture in the Mediterranean. Within a decade, Russia has emerged as a challenger on Europe’s southern flank. In Syria, Russian deployments have set up an A2/AD bubble over the Levant. The Syrian frontier has greatly helped the Russian Armed Forces develop combat-proven capabilities and test over 200 new weapons. Russia’s infamous arc of steel now extends to the Mediterranean and poses a potential threat to NATO’s freedom of movement in this important region. In Libya, a mixture of Russian Aerospace Forces and private military contractors (PMCs) have equipped the Kremlin with considerable geopolitical leverage.

The Russian Military´s Comeback After the Post-Soviet Fall

The Kremlin’s geostrategic calculus in the Mediterranean overlaps with a Soviet-type resolve based on a comprehensive framework that prioritizes spheres of influence and alliances with client states. Since the rapid collapse of the regime of former Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi in 2011, Moscow has shown a firm willingness toward military interventions in the Mediterranean to safeguard its clients. Syria is the manifestation of this political-military understanding. Learn More/...


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Established in 2007, Carnegie Europe continues to be a trusted source on European foreign and security policy. Through its diverse network of international scholars, Carnegie Europe provides independent and relevant research and recommendations on a wide range of thematic areas at the core of international and European affairs including decoding the integration path of the European Union, European democratic reform, the domestic and global challenges of climate change policy, Europe’s international relationships, and the potential regeneration of transatlantic relations. Carnegie Europe brings a multiplicity of perspectives on the most pressing global challenges to European audiences across the continent. Learn More/... 

Image Credit: Sergei F