In Russia and Its Islamic World, Robert Service discusses Russia’s long and difficult relationship with Islam, within its borders and across the world, from the thirteenth century to the present. He maps Russia’s complex and sometimes contradictory interactions with its Muslims, nearby Muslim states, and the Middle East, exploring centuries of Russian territorial expansion and occupation, Muslim jihad, the Soviet assault on Islam, the fall of the Soviet Union, and Russia’s current bid to reestablish itself as a world power.
To illuminate the often misunderstood relationship between Russia and Islam, the author surveys centuries of political, religious, and military history, with an emphasis on the years of the Soviet Union, perestroika, and the current volatile situation as Russia asserts itself from Crimea to Syria. He shows that Russia’s treatment of its Muslim citizens is inextricably linked to its dealings with neighboring Muslim states and deeply engages with the attitudes and policies of key leaders, including Stalin, Gorbachëv, Yeltsin, and Putin. Considering the current state of global affairs, he makes clear that this relationship will not only affect Russia and its Muslims but the rest of the world in the twenty-first century and beyond.