In March 2014, in the midst of the Ukraine crisis, President Barack Obama claimed that Russia was merely a “regional power”. But the eastern Mediterranean has borne witness to how Russia has raised its status in the international arena in the time since. The governments of Cyprus, Greece and Egypt have seen Moscow as a counterweight to the West and have played the Russia card in their negotiations with Brussels and Washington. And for its part, in Syria Russia has conducted its first military intervention beyond the borders of the former Soviet Union since the end of the Cold War. The projection of Russian military and diplomatic power into the Mediterranean marks a new era in the relations between Russia and the West, opening up a new scenario of geopolitical rivalry that goes beyond that of the Russian “close stranger”.