Written by Nicolae Ţîbrigan, Geopolitics.ro
'Russia is neither East nor West, it is somewhere in between, independent and diverse' (Aleksander Dughin, 'Geopolitics basics. Geopolitical future of Russia, Volume I')
Vladimir Putin's third term in Kremlin brings a new geopolitical project of Russia, stated in his article 'Россия и меняющийся мир' ('Russia and the world that changes'). Moscow's foreign policy depends stoutly on geopolitics and Russian leaders have to take this into account. Has his article made the citizens vote in the presidential election of March 4, 2012? We don't know that yet, but it's certain that from now on the Russian electorate is not only a political one, but also a geopolitical one. The worldwide geopolitical flexibility gave it a special place in the geopolitical analysis for the specialists - with a continental territory, compact, extremely broad and very diverse in terms of geographical and human structure, Russia has no other option, but to adopt a defensive position.
Russia occupies the same central strategic position in the world like Germany in Europe. It may launch foray in all directions and resist attack from all directions, except North", said Halford Mackinder. Kremlin's geopolitical adventure might cost too much and then internal centrifugal forces can be reactivated. What is the answer from the re-elected president to the geopolitical challenges in the world? What will be Russia's next steps in the execution of the "Euroasia" project?
U.S. and NATO concerns us....
Due to its strategic position, the Russian Federation stands out as the main economic, political and military actor in the region. Thus, adopting an 'isolationist position' in the international policy is unacceptable, at least that's Russian diplomacy's present opinion. The most important stake, tells the author, is 'respecting the national sovereignty of states'. Criticism of U.S. and NATO is designed specially through this view angle. Russian officials will abandon their expectant attitude and will use all available leverage in the international community to undermine the U.S. military presence in the 'near vicinity' and in the areas of risk of NATO missions: 'It's important that the UN Security Council oppose effectively the dictation of some countries and to the arbitration in the international arena'. In other words, Russia is strongly committed to the 'Empire coagulation' process, says Russian geopolitician Alexksander Dughin, not only by recovering lost territories in close proximity and resumption of its alliance with Eastern European countries, but also by including in a Euroasian block of the continental Western states (primary using UN mechanisms to 'crack from the inside' the Franco-German bloc of NATO, which tends to escape from under the U.S.) .
Middle East à la russe
The 'Arab Spring' scenario left Russian leaders with a bitter taste, especially since such a scenario can be repeated any time in Moscow: 'Primitive revenge against Gaddafi was a horrible scene.'
Russian Foreign Ministry has received clear instruction to prevent western allies from repeating those events in Syria and slipping off of this country to the Western block by their 'foreign intervention'. The UN Security Council Members, Russia and China have blocked two resolutions by the 'Western allies', which condemned the repression led by Bashar al-Assad regime, which allowed loss of human lives to reach to 8,500, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Serghei Lavrov's single plea was: 'We protect international law'  and this right must be defended at all costs to avoid creating a precedent for the West in the Middle East.
Another 'headache' for Kremlin appeared immediately after the 'Arab Spring', when Russian companies started loosing their markets in the region, which was considered to be their stronghold for decades. Restoring old economic positions that Russia had in the Arab world is the new diplomatic mission undertaken by the Putin administration. Since the Autumn of 2008, when the Russian Federation saw the first signs of financial and economic crisis, and until today, the country's economy declined significantly. However, because of the measures of economic intervention of the state, it seems like the Russian economy has stabilized. Thus, old plans can be renewed: creation of the international center for fixing the price of oil; world gas cartel; make the ruble an Internationale reserve currency, ensure Russian grand capital etc.
"The Arab Spring" has proved Russia that the Internet and other mass media (TV, social networks, mobile telephony etc) have become effective tools in shaping public opinion. However, the 'concern' towards these soft-power tools occurs when they are used to promote 'nationalist', 'separatist' or 'extremist' movements, obviously when they don't contradict the Russian Realpolitik logic. Recently, the Reporters Without Frontiers Organization released the annual list of Internet enemies, where Russia seems unwilling to change their status of country that keeps 'under observation' the cyberspace. 
Frictions between the Russian Federation and the West will manifest in the future as well over Iranian topic. Unlike the U.S., Vladimir Putin doesn't consider Iran an international threat or a possible nuclear danger. This movement fits perfectly in the Pan-Eurasian project and Russian Policy towards South in the creation of the Moscow-Tehran axis, which would solve many problems: creating an anti-American alliance, exiting to the warm seas, removing contradictions between Russophile and Islam (Iranian type), stopping the Iranian-Iraki conflict.  The vector will be constant, especially since in the UN Security Council the Russian Federation and China's veto will oppose the American sanction proposals towards Tehran.
Due to Russian exports of modern weapons and Iran's high potential to become a natural gas exporter in the regions 'occupied' by Gazprom and Kaz Munai Gaz, Russia has engaged to support the recognition of Tehran's right to develop its own nuclear program supervised by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Iran as well has its own interests in the Caucasus. Muslims from Azerbaijan are Shiite and over 15 million Azers live in Iran, where the Shiite Azerbaijani clergy occupy key positions in this country. Thus Iran, Armenia and the Russian Federation are coordinating their actions, in competition with Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan (the Atlantic block).  Moreover, Washington, by its economic pressures, does nothing but accelerate Iran's leadership in the Islamic states block, opposing to Atlantism.
In the Afghanistan matter, Russia is interested in giving military assistance in the international mission in the region. Although U.S. announced the retreat of their troops by 2014, the U.S. military bases located in the Central Asian countries give Kremlin reason to be anxious. 'Drugs' and 'Russian intervention in the international missions for support' are the main vectors of pressure to South Eurasia. The geopolitical trend shows that Russia will return to Afghanistan, this time as 'an ally of the Afghan people', n the same time assuring itself with a bridgehead to the warm seas. 
1. Aleksandr Dughin, Bazele geopoliticii. Viitorul geopolitic al Rusiei, vol. 1. (trad. Valentina Roşca), Editura Eurasiatica, Bucureşti, 2011, p. 115.
2. R.M. Revoltele din Siria: Rusia şi ţările arabe cer stoparea violenţelor, indiferent de unde provin. Found at: http://www.hotnews.ro/stiri-international-11713877-revoltele-din-siria-rusia-tarile-arabe-cer-stoparea-violentelor-indiferent-unde-provin.htm
3. Andreea Pandelea, Reporteri fără Frontiere: Ce state sunt inamici ai internetului. Found at http://www.capital.ro/detalii-articole/stiri/reporteri-fara-frontiere-ce-state-sunt-inamici-ai-internetului-162872.html
4. Aleksandr Dughin, op. cit., pp. 160-165.
5. Ioana Ionescu și Imanuela Ionescu, Federația Rusă și Uniunea Europeană la începutul secolului XXI, Top Form, București, 2010, p. 47.
6. Aleksandr Dughin, op. cit., p. 118.
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Translated in English from Romanian language, Original Article appeared on our Partner Website Geopolitics.ro