The Russian company Roe that makes gold by fueling conflicts in the Middle East, while Europe looks the other way

The Russian company ROE is the spearhead with which Putin has been gaining influence on the world geostrategic board, with a diplomacy of arms.

The Russian company Roe that makes gold by fueling conflicts in the Middle East, while Europe looks the other way

The Russian company ROE is the spearhead with which Putin has been gaining influence on the world geostrategic board, with a diplomacy of arms. Ignacio Álvarez-Ossorio, professor of Arab and Islamic studies at the UCM, warns that in the process "the Middle East is a great unknown to Spain, and Europe runs the risk of becoming irrelevant if it continues to ignore what is happening in the Middle East" . And he points out that there is a notable turnaround in some countries in the area, without heeding the calls of the US. "This is a sign that Russia has regional allies to whom more things are linked than what is linked to them." to Western countries," he says.

What Moscow is doing is taking advantage of the chaos in the region, which has intensified with the conflict in Ukraine. The more instability, the less chance of resources from the Middle East reaching the West. Meanwhile, Russia tries to recover the old trade relations it had in the region, and this is achieved with the sale of weapons. "The turning point was his entry into the Syrian war in 2015, from which Russia emerged stronger, and many leaders in the area began to visit Putin and signed agreements. Now he is an increasingly relevant actor who wants to have voice in the big questions that have to do with the Middle East, and the future of Syria, Libya, Egypt or the nuclear pact with Iran", explains Álvarez-Ossorio. And the Russian company Rosoboronexport (ROE) is a key element of that diplomacy.

In this scenario of chaos, ROE orders exceeded 45,000 million in 2021. Rosoboronexport is the only state intermediary to export high technology and weapons, from missiles to drones, AI, tanks or planes. This specialized company is part of Rostec, a state mega-corporation created by Putin in 2007. The declared objective of ROE is "to consolidate Russia's presence in the world and strengthen its leadership in the world market", being the second arms exporter in the world. planet. And the Middle East is one of its preferred markets. Its profits between 2000 and 2020 total 163,000 million euros. Its president, Alexander Alexandrovich Mikheevu, was included in the list of businessmen sanctioned by the EU, and is considered responsible for the destabilization of Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea. ROE constitutes an important foreign exchange inflow for Putin. In 2014, for example, sanctions pushed down the price of crude oil, but arms sales increased. The Middle East concentrates 37% of the orders.

The UCM professor explains that Putin is interested in forming an authoritarian bloc between Russia and some countries in the region, especially with the monarchies of the Gulf, Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates, since it is an area that has 50% of world hydrocarbon reserves, key at this time of energy crisis. And they have opened the doors to the Russian oligarchs, while refusing to increase the export of hydrocarbons to the West, Qatar being the exception. "The common denominator of the governments of Putin and the Middle East is the rejection of any type of democratic reform," warns Álvarez-Ossorio.

But José Abu-Tarbush, professor of international relations at the University of La Laguna, indicates that the more than dubious performance of Russian weapons in Ukraine may cause military contracts to decrease in the future. He claims this is because Russian troops are using the same tactics in Ukraine that they used in Syria, but he considers this to have been a serious mistake, given that Moscow's opponents at the time were rebels, not Western technology. . At the same time, he reminds that there is a grain crisis in the Middle East, dependent on Ukrainian supplies. And that means that countries like Yemen are in an extreme situation, and it is not the only one, with a devaluation of the currency, drought, energy crisis, unemployment, famine... and this could generate riots. In addition, the United States is in a supposed retreat in the area, "it is seen in September of last year when its exit from Afghanistan was precipitated, leaving power to the Taliban", he establishes.

For Álvarez-Ossorio, it is a perfect storm that could give rise to a new Arab Spring. "For now, they perceive Putin as an ally and they don't blame Russia for this crisis, because there is strict censorship of the media," he explains. Russia, like China, seeks to undermine the geostrategic supremacy of the US in the region, while Turkey seeks to maintain its relevance by being the intermediary in various agreements. Abu-Tarbush points out that both Russia and Middle Eastern countries have pragmatic agreements. Putin "doesn't hate anything," he stresses, displaying a kind of highly profitable contortionist diplomacy, without tying himself to a single ally. Eduard Soler from Cidob adds in his report that European security and the situation in the Middle East countries , along with the Ukraine conflict are communicating vessels. Therefore, it is necessary to be alert.