After the outbreak of war in Ukraine on 24 February 2022 all academic cooperation with Russian institutions was put on hold. According to the original schedule RUSMENA was to organize a seminar in Moscow to discuss questions related to Russia’s role in the MENA region with Russian experts and stakeholders. As this was no longer possible due to the outbreak of war in Ukraine and clear reluctance on the part of RUSMENA Russian partners to be involved in the project, the project team decided to organize a series of meetings on these questions with leading European experts working on the Middle East and North Africa.
As one of the members of the RUSMENA team, Tine Gade, is affiliated with the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence that also has MEDirections program with focus on developments in the broadly understood Middle East, RUSMENA organized a round table involving EUI experts on the Middle East and North Africa to discuss Russia’s role and perceptions in this region. The event was organized at EUI’s premises on 2 June 2022 and involved all members of the RUSMENA team as well as leading Western experts on the Middle East and North Africa with first-hand knowledge of the situation in the MENA region. The team also managed to invite some of the local actors who could share their opinions on Russia’s role in the region, especially in Syria.
Details on the topics discussed at this event and experts involved in this discussion can be found here:
As the team also learned that a new MENA related research initiative – the Mediterranean Platform – was about to be launched at the LUISS University in Rome they decided to combine the event in Florence with another round table in Rome involving most of the members of the RUSMENA team and Rome-based experts on developments in this region.
The program of this event as well as the list of participants can be found here:
All in all, both events provided a very good opportunity to RUSMENA to get a better understanding of how Russia’s role in the region is viewed from a regional perspective and by the Western expert community with deep knowledge of the evolving situation in the region. The RUSMENA team expect these two important events to be only the first step in deepening of cooperation between members of the RUSMENA project and other European expert milieus working on questions related to developments in the MENA region where not only Russia but also other actors are active and have to interact.