Publié le 25/06/2015


With the Syrian crisis entering its fifth year, the changing security context in Syria and Iraq since the summer of 2014 has highlighted the increasingly important role played by the Kurds as a fighting force against Islamic State (IS). In a more general context of renewed Russian influence in the Middle East since the late 2000s, the development of Russo-Kurdish relations has entered a new phase since the beginning of the current decade.

Russians and Kurds have several converging interests, the main focus of which is currently the fight against IS and cooperation in the energy sector. Russo-Kurdish relations are not without contradictions, however, due to Moscow's multifaceted diplomacy in the Middle East. The Kremlin is one of the rare strategic players in the region that has the ability to negotiate with all of its countries. Turkey, Syria and Iran, which are equally strategic partners for Moscow, all fear the danger of Kurdish separatism. Until now, the Kremlin’s diplomatic balancing act has enabled it to strengthen its ties with the Kurds, without compromising its relations with neighboring countries concerned about the issue of Kurdistan.

This paper is the product of cooperation between the Russia/NIS Center and the Contemporary Turkey Programme, Ifri