No doubt, Russia is watching both ISIS and events in Turkey with much interest.
In addition to her many Russian Orthodox, she has a sizable Muslim population. According to the Pew Research Center, Russia has “more Muslims than Jordan and Libya combined.”
And a good portion of her southern border backs up to Muslim Kazakhstan. Though its significantly smaller than Russia, that country covers more territory than the UK, France, Germany, and Poland plus several smaller European countries thrown in for good measure. Another Muslim nation, Azerbaijan, also borders southwest Russia.
Furthermore, little Georgia is all that separates Russia from Turkey. Also, Syria, Iraq, Iran, as well as several more Muslim states — plus India, with its own sizable Muslim population, according to Pew — are in her neighborhood.
Her Religious Card
President Putin and other government officials have openly criticized the clearly declining moral standards of Western Europe and America.
After the Kremlin’s lengthy but disastrous experiment with atheism, some say that these days her leaders find religion a convenient card to play. The remarks are seen as a cynical ploy to divert attention away from charges of bureaucratic corruption, from within and outside the country, as well as Western accusations of involvement in Ukraine.
The government, no doubt, is counting on its criticism of the US and European morals to resonate with the Russian Orthodox, as it has, and with the Muslim world. By employing similar rhetoric as her Muslim neighbors — Russia implies to the devout in her region, “We share a common outlook regarding the degenerate West, so let’s be friends and allies as we face our common foe.”
Map courtesy of CIA maps