Russia Wants to 'Redesign' the Middle EastUnder the radar last week, Vladimir Putin met with Mahmoud Abbas in Moscow. The meeting was not considered remarkable as Abbas has started to visit the Kremlin on an annual basis. The timing, though, corresponded with Putin’s definitely remarkable announcement Russia would reinitiate its sale of S-300 missiles to Iran. According to Sarah Fainberg of the Institute for National Security Studies, it is hard to ignore the correlation. “The official announcement that Putin was lifting the ban happened a few hours after Russia received Abbas in Moscow. It might be just a coincidence. But at this level of decision-making, coincidences are rare. It is sending a message about Russia’s intentions in the Middle East.” Russia’s goals in the region have been opaque for analysts, even more so for people unfamiliar with Russian politics. Spokesman for the White House Josh Earnest belittled the Russians by suggesting the missile sale was all about badly needed currency. But Fainberg says that that is hardly the entire picture. The money Russia would make from the deal is extremely limited and cannot hope to make a massive impact on a Russian economy in its sixth year of recession. “Basically we often quote economic reasons and these are valid, real reasons. But the ultimate and decisive reason is of a geopolitical nature meaning Russia wants to ultimately redesign the Middle East to its best interests and this explains the intensification of its activities in the past weeks whether in Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Yemen or Iran. For Russia it is also about containing the spread of Sunni fundamentalism through its Southern borders. The number of Chechen fighters in Iraq and Syria has been on the rise.” FULL REPORT