CNN – Russia’s ambitions in the Middle East reach far beyond Syria, according to US officials.
From Afghanistan to Libya, US Pentagon officials are increasingly concerned by mounting Russian military and diplomatic activity they believed is aimed at undermining the US and NATO.
Some of the actions Moscow is accused of participating in include sending operatives to support an armed faction in Libya and providing political legitimacy — and maybe even supplies — to the Taliban in Afghanistan. These moves come on top of their overt dispatching of warplanes and ships to target the political opponents of its ally in Syria.
“It is my view that they are trying to increase their influence in this critical part of the globe,” Gen. Joseph Votel, who oversees US forces in the region, told the Senate Armed Services Committee earlier this month.
Military commanders and analysts see Moscow’s efforts as aimed at taking advantage of the geopolitical turbulence in the Middle East to re-establish Russia as a major player in the region and by extension the world stage.
“Russia is certainly expanding its influence and trying to reestablish itself as a superpower,” Bill Roggio of the Washington-based Foundation for the Defense of Democracies told CNN.