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Putin, Iran, Nuke Talks And First Strikes

Vladimir “Pooty Poot” Putin, with the opportunity to either back the words of Russia’s president that sometimes sanctions are just necessary or the Foreign Minister’s words of yesterday, chose to back the FM’s:

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin warned major powers on Wednesday against intimidating Iran and said talk of sanctions against the Islamic Republic over its nuclear programme was “premature”.

Putin, who many diplomats, analysts, and Russian citizens believe is still Russia’s paramount leader despite stepping down as president last year, was speaking after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Moscow for two days of talks.

“There is no need to frighten the Iranians,” Putin told reporters in Beijing after a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.

“We need to look for a compromise. If a compromise is not found, and the discussions end in a fiasco, then we will see.”

“And if now, before making any steps (towards holding talks) we start announcing some sanctions, then we won’t be creating favourable conditions for them (talks) to end positively. This is why it is premature to talk about this now.”

There’s more afoot here than just stiffing the US, although that seems to have become a bit of a game for the Russians lately. Iran is very important in the Russian scheme to have hegemony over its “near abroad”. It is interested in Iran, not because of its oil, but mostly because of its natural gas. Russia is the major supplier of NG to Europe. Iran is another potential source. Russia sees an advantage in exercising nominal control over Iran’s supply of NG by maintaining friendly relations. That control allows them to use the supply of NG as leverage.  Power and money talk – “reset” buttons don’t.

Another little change in Russia’s approach to the world today is their possible change in their nuclear arms strategy:

Russia is weighing changes to its military doctrine that would allow for a “preventive” nuclear strike against its enemies — even those armed only with conventional weapons. The news comes just as American diplomats are trying to get Russia to cut down its nuclear stockpile, and put the squeeze on Iran’s suspect nuclear program.

Not exactly the position you’d like to see them take if you have a goal of reducing nuclear stockpiles. And note that Russia not only reserves the right to make a preemptive nuclear strike, but reserves that right to use nuclear weapons against a foe that is armed with conventional weapons only.

As for those talks, this seems to be the Russian negotiating position:

In the interview, he takes a swipe at the United States and NATO, saying that the alliance “continues to press for the admission of new members to NATO, the military activities of the bloc are intensifying, and U.S. strategic forces are conducting intensive exercises to improve the management of strategic nuclear weapons.”

In other words, Moscow is holding to a hard line, precisely at a time when Washington is trying to play nice. The administration wants the Kremlin’s help — to pressure Iran, to revive the arms-control process — but the bear still needs to brandish nukes.

Cutting through the clutter, it seems their initial demands will have little to do with nukes and everything to do with what they deem encroachments into their sphere of influence. That may lead to some talks about nuke stockpiles, but it appears those may end up aimed mostly at US reductions and not so much those of the Russians (who may claim to have unilaterally gotten rid of many nukes because they couldn’t afford to keep them up during the transition from the USSR to its present state).

In the meantime, it is reported that the US will allow Russian inspectors on US sites – apparently granted with absolutely nothing in return. Again.

If you have the feeling we’re going to get rolled in any future nuclear arms talks, join the club.



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20 Responses to Putin, Iran, Nuke Talks And First Strikes

  • There’s more afoot here than just stiffing the US, although that seems to have become a bit of a game for the Russians lately.Considering the group of naive, incompetent dunder-heads we have running things here, that’s a game that is definitely set on “easy” mode…

  • We have nothing to worry about! Erb assures us that Russia is not our enemy.

  • Son of a…

    Make that:

    There’s more afoot here than just stiffing the US, although that seems to have become a bit of a game for the Russians lately.

    Considering the group of naive, incompetent dunder-heads we have running things here, that’s a game that is definitely set on “easy” mode…

  • The Russians are a “Corpse in Armor.”

    They are everyone’s enemy, by their desperate nature. But much like the lowliest street criminal, they look for someone even lower on the food chain as their stooge, into whom they can displace their own criminality. That’s what Iran is for.

    Would the Russians actually use their nuclear weapons?

    That’s a dangerous question to try to answer. But what the Russians are doing is reminding everyone that they still have a nuclear arsenal, that they are a “Corpse in Armor.”

  • Sigh… I have no desire to get involved in a Cold War v2.0 with the damned Russians, but if that’s what they want…

    The problem is that our present leadership (I use the term loosely) seems interested in AT LEAST degrading our power and prestige and AT WORST outright kowtowing to any other country that hates us. The Russians (led by ex-KGB thug Putin) sense weakness. I agree with Martin McPhillips: Russia at this time is a corpse in armor, but I think that they sense that TAO and his goons are set on turning our country into a corpse, period. As the saying goes, in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.

    • 6-7 years of Bush trying to get support for Iran, meddling in former Eastern Block Countries, preserving and announcing first strike capability for countries in Europe.

      Cold War 2.0 is on. There only choice you get is whether you want to bury your head in the sand about it or not.

  • Iran’s greatest use for Russia is as a live pariah. Geographically, Iran is best positioned to transit Caspian oil and gas to world markets. Were it not a pariah, the internationals would quickly make pipelines to Iran’s coastal oil terminals and Iran would make good money on transit fees and have expanded influence in the Caspian area.

    Russia’s EU policy heavily rests on it being the EU’s majority energy supplier. It works hard to stifle alternate routes for Caspian energy to come to market. Russia must be both the Iranian government’s protector and its isolator for Russian interests to be preserved. This is the root of the “death to Russia” chants by Mousavi’s supporters on Iranian streets. It’s a wonder why american analysts seem so blind to this dynamic and don’t emphasize more how Russia plays Iran, humiliates Iran.

  • Get out of the silly cold war mentality. The world is different. Russia is a regional European power with a relatively small sphere of influence. Its concerned with a balance with the EU, and relations with China and Iran, two other regional powers near Russia. Russia isn’t worth worrying about or taking too seriously at this point. Czar Vladimir is simply acting like any Czar would — tough talk, but his actions will be limited and regional since Russia is weak. Your posts on Russia are anachronistic, as if the world were like it was thirty years ago.

    • Scott, I hate to tell you this, but the only person of a true “cold war mentality” around these parts is you. You’re still regurgitating stale, canned Soviet propaganda twenty years after its expiration date.

      I also hate to tell you this, but Russia’s problems began well before the Soviet beast settled on it and sucked its blood out. Now it is rapidly depopulating, with a life expectancy nearly twenty years below the world you claim it belongs to as a “regional power.”

      Unfortunately, a true to the end KGB’er is in control in Russia, and he knows and is using all the old Soviet tricks. Perhaps the attempts to rehabilitate Stalin are among the many things you seem to miss in the course of your days.

      You’re a feeble academic, Scott, trained to your supper by the platitudes of an academic political science establishment that would sooner put you out and let you work at a local dump than support any effort at independent thought. Not that you would any longer be capable of that, if you ever were.

    • The Cold War is over. Now you have to think of the Russians the way we always thought about the French (for you Trekies, the French are the modern day Ferengi), which means, it’s all about the money.
      Obviously, the Russians would like to get paid the billions for the nuclear facilities that they have constructed and such .. before the US gets around to blowing them into a billion pieces .. any French businessman (or Ferengi) would understand.

    • Useful Idiot v2.0

  • Hey! I guess this proves that our President certainly deserved his Noble Peace Prize eh!

    Yes indeed, the Russians are back to Pre-emptive strikes on people they consider threats to Mother Russia, and nuke strikes against foes with no nukes.

    We’re back to Carter as President, they’re back to being the Soviet Union.
    Good Work Barry! Way to stand tall in the face of adversity!

    The real leaders of the world have read the President’s profile, expect more of the same in the future. They realize we truly have NO President.

  • It’s not just Russia. Obama is pre-rolling to China too. He’s loosening the control on missile technology to China by giving oversight back to the Commerce Department, which was responsibile for the last huge improvements to China’s ballistic missile program.

    • It’s all part of Obama’s very clever strategy to use new Chinese missiles as clever counter weight against Soviet Russians first strike intentions.
      He’s a genius! I’m telling you! Well spoken too! And LOOK at the man! Playin basketball no less! WOW! What a President!


      the one has nothing to do with the other, except for being all part of his new policy of appeasement and fluffy bunny (makes the Swede’s happy!) diplomacy, and to fulfill their desire to make us just another nation of the world, filled with ‘citizens of the world’ rather than the leader of the free world.

      Heh, when it comes, the backlash is gonna be awesome to behold.

  • Here’s an old cold warrior expressing himself via Ed Rasimus:

    Great camera angle.

  • Putin’s bluffing, re Iranian nukes- he doesn’t want a nuclear ME any more than we do.

    But, he’s wisely working the Boy Wonder like a poker player. He knows the Israelis will bomb Iran back to the Stone Age… he’s just milking all sides for all he can get before he leaves Tehran to fend for themselves-

    And he’ll be wringing Obama for plenty more concessions along the way… these KGB guys know a mark when they see one.

    God Help Us until 2012…

  • I am going to partially agree with Erb here. I suspect most of Russia’s goals and interests are related to their near abroad.

    The problem is that the EU and NATO and the USA (not to mention China) have started to encroach on the near abroad for various reasons:

    1. Oil and Gas
    2. WOT / Afghanistan
    3. EU slow expansion in Balkans and Eastern Europe
    4. NATO – same thing

    These threaten Russian power. How do you keep Ukraine down when its in the EU, NATO, etc.? How do you control the ‘Stans when China is running pipelines back to their coastal areas and buying gas?

    Maybe being a little reckless, pick on Georgia (kill the chicken to scare the monkey), help Iran to slow you down etc.

    I mean, what’s in it for Russia if they just sit back and work on their own economy and be friendly? (its probably what they should do, but look at France and UK always trying to “punch above their weight.”

    I think Russia wants to have some clout, and being the drunken bully serves that purpose in many ways.

  • Now, I think the Russians are dumb to pick fights with the USA over the WoT and Iran. We’d be very appreciative of help in these areas and are not the EU who keeps assimilating ever closer.

    and NATO, while scary historically for them, is probably not what it once was…in fact, I wonder if Russia could have actually started wedging the US out of NATO by helping us in Iraq, helping US forces in Afghanistan (via logistic use of bases, etc.) If the US public started thinking that the Russians are more helpful than the French, then that would be a big move. I know I care a lot more about Iraq and Afghanistan then the Balkans or gas pipelines to Europe.

    I guess the Russians get big weapons sales from supplying our enemies though, so this is probably fantasy.

    • “I guess the Russians get big weapons sales from supplying our enemies though”

      We have a winner. All Russia has available to sell for big Rubles is military hardware and oil. By quietly supporting the boy bluster Ah-mad-nut-job a crisis mentality is maintained in the Gulf which is good for arms sales. Also, that same crisis keeps the price of oil high.

      If France is the Ferengi then Russia is Watto (sorry for the cross-cultural reference…).

      • If this is key…then of course they have to oppose the USA, if only to show their clients that they are a reliable supplier…after all the Chinese now make stuff too.