Obama's romance with the Muslim Brotherhood has now put the United States in a peculiar diplomatic position. The US is now aligned with Turkey, Qatar and Sudan against Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Both latter countries support terrorists, but they are not, currently, fans of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Obama's base in the region comes down to Qatar and Turkey. So the UAE is practicing some diplomatic outreach to Russia.
Moscow and Dubai come out for a peaceful resolution of Middle East conflicts, including Egypt, a source in the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Thursday after a telephone talk between Mikhail Bogdanov, the Russian President’s envoy for the Middle East and deputy foreign minister, and Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates. The Emirates’ side initiated the conversation.
How much of anything this means is open to question. Despite some of the wackier reports out there, Russia doesn't seem to be in too much of a hurry to commit itself. Aside from warning Russians not to travel to Egypt, there hasn't been much coming out of Moscow. Officially.
More damningly, Russia does not appear to have dissented from the UN Security Council's vague call to end the violence. This is in keeping with Russia's official statements which contain boilerplate calls for both sides to avoid violence.
A larger shift may come, but for the moment it isn't here. Why?
Putin can't afford Egypt. Certainly not now. Nor does he have any real interest in diving further into the Middle East mess. Russia is tied to Iran and Syria, but even there its commitment is shaky.
The new Russia is not the USSR. It isn't a world power. It enjoys undermining America, but isn't willing to seriously try and take its place.
So Putin is happy to see Egypt and America at odds, and if Egypt agrees to buy some Russian jets, he'll be happy to see the deal happen, but he isn't going to throw gobs of free money and support to them.
The Egyptian government also knows that they can't get much out of Russia or China. So does the UAE. It's a diplomatic maneuver. But Russia doesn't seem that eager to be used as a pawn in a dispute between America and American allies.
Putin's Russia is big on posturing. But it doesn't really have the resources or the determination to play the big games anymore. It doesn't need Egypt. And it's comfortable letting someone else deal with all the problems.
Russia's propaganda networks will go on hammering America, but don't expect Putin to show up in Cairo to inaugurate a new era. Putin doesn't show up anywhere unless you pay him a whole lot of money first.
The USSR gave things away for power and influence. The new Russia doesn't want to take over the world. It just wants to set America back on its toes.