Russia’s contemporary development of political relations with a number of players in the Gulf – namely Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and the UAE – is taking place as though a continuation of relations between these states and the former United Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR). Since Soviet contacts with these countries was unquestionably fragmented, this tactic seems an unstable one, and an inadvisable place to be (re) building political ties. Looking at the historic relationships between the USSR and these Gulf states, this paper will show how current Russian policy is building on a problematic past.
Soviet Attitude towards the Smaller Gulf States
During the peak of Soviet influence, the Gulf region was an arena of Soviet-American confrontation. The general atmosphere of the Cold War influenced the formation of Soviet strategic goals in the Gulf region. The USSR had traditionally considered its foremost task in the region as one of assisting governments predisposed to the path of “non-capitalist” development, with Iraq as a central ally.
This allegiance meant that the USSR gave Iraq unconditional support, something that was demonstrated during the 1961 Kuwaiti crisis when the Soviet Union took Iraq’s side, even when its leader, Abdul Karim Qasim, demanded the annexation of Kuwait as an integral part of Iraq’s territory. On two occasions, the Soviet Union used its veto power as a permanent member of the UN Security Council in favor of Iraq. The first instance was regarding the presence of British armed forces in Kuwait (deployed at the request of the Kuwaiti government to defend its independence), which Soviet officials saw as illegitimate. The issue was brought to the UN. In his speech to the Security Council, Soviet representative Valerian Zorin declared:
“Great Britain tried to justify the deployment of its forces on Kuwaiti territory and concentration of its fleet in this region as necessary measures to organize resistance against Iraqi aggression. But this explanation cannot be admitted because there are no Iraqi troops on the territory of Kuwait”.
To read this Research Paper in full as a PDF, please click here or on the icon above. An earlier version of this paper was delivered
 Security Council. Official reports. Session N 958. July 4, 1961.