Online Course “Russia and the Middle East” is Open for Registration!

Tämän kuvan alt-attribuutti on tyhjä; Tiedoston nimi on B9R4WW-1-1024x691.jpg

12.10.-13.12.2020, Tuesdays at 14.15-15.45

Registration period for the course is open until 2.10. at 16.00.
5 etcs (possible equivalency with Finnish universities, see below)
Course language: English
Format: Zoom-lectures, resources on Moodle, written assignments
Organisers: Finnish Institute in the Middle East (FIME) together with the American University in Beirut and the University of Vienna, in collaboration with AUB HIST273 United States and the Middle East course.

Course Instructors: Rinna Kullaa and Makram Rabah

Key description

We learn to identify watershed moments in the history of the region and to relate them to the influence and intervention of Russia/The Soviet Union in the Middle East (1800-2020).

Working methods

The course consists of lectures of key research scholars of the topic and the region as well as makes use of scientific and expert written and recorded materials. This course is presented online and is coordinated in collaboration with the American University in Beirut. If interested in a comparative perspective, students will be able to follow in tandem the course HIST 273 The United States and the Middle East taught at AUB online to add to their learning experience and gain insight from group discussions about the combined and/or opposite roles of the US and Russia in the Middle East throughout history.


This course offers an examination of the varying and complex relationship between Russia/Soviet Union and the Middle East over the last two centuries (1800-2020). Subjects examined include:

– Imagining the Middle East in Russia after the Empire´s fighting of the Napoleonic wars in central Europe
– the Russo-Turkish Wars (1828-9; 1877-8)
– Russian ambitions in the Caucasus at the turn of the 20th century
– introduction of Marxism to the Levant
-the changing approaches of the Soviet Union’s strategy towards the Middle East and North Africa during the Cold War
– an assessment of Russian strategic theaters of the Levant and the Russian understanding of the US´s approach to the Middle East, and the Red Sea
– Arab collaborations with the Soviet Union
– the role of Soviet military industry in the region (which followed in the footsteps of that of Russian empire’s presence since 1768)
– Cold War diplomacy toward the Arab states and Israel
– intervention in the conflicts in Lebanon (1975-1990), the Gulf Wars (1990-1991; 2003) as well as the war in Syria (2011-).

The long time period under examination allows students to assess the differing prospects of the area during colonialism, the Cold War, regional conflicts and under the tide of rising and falling regional hegemons such as Egypt and Turkey. In discussions we bring forth the key importance of observing the changing relations and the position of Turkey at one end, the Gulf States at the other and Egypt on the third corner of a triangle shaped area.

Learning objectives

At the end of the course using both primary and secondary sources, students will be able to analyze and explore political, economic, military and also cultural aspect of the relationship of Russia/the Soviet Union to the history and current circumstance of the Middle East. Students will write a final research essay, as well as two response papers.

Equivalency with university courses

University of Helsinki
ALKU-LIJ 313 Lähi-idän kansainvälinen politiikka (5op)
ALKU-LIJ 312 Lähi-idän historian erityiskysymyksiä (5op)
ALKU-E320 Euroopan kulttuurien valinnainen teema-alue (5op)


The registration period for the course is unti 2.10. at 16.00. The selected participants will be informed by 6.10.

Please register by submitting the following form.

    In case of technical difficulties in submitting the form, please send e-mail to ella.kaplas at Please note: you must check the GDPR acceptance box to submit the form.

    Picture: SPUTNIK / Alamy Stock Photo. President of the UAR Gamal Abdel Nasser right is speaking with the CPSU Central Committee First Secretary Chairman of the Soviet Union.