Millar, T.B.
October 1970
Foreign Affairs;Oct70, Vol. 49 Issue 1, p70
This article examines the foreign policies of the Soviet Union regarding the south and east of the Suez Canal. An examination of Soviet foreign policies since World War II suggests a readiness to take advantage of Western weakness wherever it occurs, both to further specific Soviet interests and to improve the Soviet-Western ratio. Before its closure in 1967, only a small fraction of Soviet trade went through the Suez Canal, this would not significantly increase if the Canal were re-opened in the near future, although Russian fishing vessels and merchant ships carrying other people's trade are increasingly operating in the Indian Ocean. From the Soviet viewpoint, it must be seen primarily for its strategic value, and this raises the whole question of Soviet policies in the Persian or Arabian Gulf and elsewhere in the Indian Ocean area. The Soviet Union has built itself a modest capacity for long-range intervention, but would be quite incapable for many years of major operations far from home. Universal pragmatism has tended to replace universal ideology, providing some strange bedfellows which national interest has not easily reconciled. Periodically, the Kremlin has shifted or lifted its vision, seeing new openings, new opportunities. South and East of Suez, the lengthening Soviet influence is more shadow than substance, but the shadows give warning of more substance to come.


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