Russian Repertoires of Power in the MENA region (RUSMENA)

2021 - 2024 (Ongoing)
The main objective of the RUSMENA project is to examine Russian power practices in the Middle East and Northern Africa (MENA) region between 2011 and 2021.

Over the past decade Russia has returned as a more active actor in this region. The return of Russia has triggered a new dynamic in the region where also other actors have vital interests. Russia’s attitude towards conflicts in the region in the wake of the Arab spring and Russia’s direct intervention in the war in Syria have resulted in renewed interest in Russian power practices.

The RUSMENA project uses the concept of repertoire of power as an analytical tool to examine Russian power practices in the MENA region – 20 countries stretching from Iran in the east to Morocco in the west. When intervening in the region Russia bundles various instruments of power together to achieve its strategic objectives.

We assume that the way Russia uses various instruments of power is rooted in Russian strategic culture and that Russia combines traditional power practices with new approaches to power to achieve these objectives in the most efficient manner. ‘Repertoire of power’ is in this project understood as a set of available policy options and a relatively stable array of tactics that countries traditionally employ when competing for influence, in this case in a region that is strategically important not only to Russia, but also to other great powers.

The MENA region always has been an area of great-power competition. As one of the great powers competing for influence, Russia has employed various instruments of power to pursue its goals and has been able to fill a power niche, conducting a surprisingly active, cost-effective and challenging policy in the region. By examining continuity, variation, change and innovation in Russian approaches to the region this project will seek to obtain a more nuanced and detailed picture of crucial aspects of Russian policymaking in the region, and more generally.

Funding program

The project is funded by the Research Council of Norway under the NORRUSS/UTENRIKS programme.


RUSMENA round tables in Rome and Florence on 1 and 2 June 2022

June 14, 2022

The NUPI project 'Russian repertoires of power in the MENA region' (RUSMENA) organized a two-day roundtable in Italy.


NUPI awarded funding for five research projects by the Research Council of Norway

December 16, 2020

The Research Council of Norway awarded NUPI funding for five new research projects.

Project Manager

Russia and Eurasia  The Middle East and North Africa  Security policy  Conflict  Energy  Diplomacy  Foreign policy

Irina Zvyagelskaya, the Institute of International Relations and Economy (IMEMO), Russia

Jeff Mankoff, National Defence University, USA

Siri Neset, Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI), Norway

Iver B.Neumann, the Fridtjof Nansen Institute (FNI), Norway