Thursday, October 25, 2007

Putin's Messages to Khameini

I've read that Putin told Khameini that an attack on Iran would be treated as an attack on Russia.

A high-level diplomatic source in Tehran tells Asia Times Online that essentially Putin and the Supreme Leader have agreed on a plan to nullify the George W Bush administration's relentless drive towards launching a preemptive attack, perhaps a tactical nuclear strike, against Iran. An American attack on Iran will be viewed by Moscow as an attack on Russia.

There is zero chance that this is true, but it doesn't have to be.

I've also read that Putin informed Khameini that he would not fuel Bushehr, (unless Iran suspends enrichment of uranium, which Khameini surely told Putin he wouldn't.

According to Olmert, Russia won’t supply nuclear fuel to Iran despite all rumors. The Kremlin realizes significance of this decision and is well aware that the international community opposes such supplies.

This is true.

Putin knows the United States is not going to bomb Iran, so there is no cost in saying something like Russia will treat an attack on Iran as an attack on Russia.

But Putin likely did tell Khameini that Russia would not fuel Bushehr without a suspension. The thing is that if Russia has been influenced by the US to withhold the fuel, Iran does not trust Russia as a fuel supplier in the future. Which increases the urgency that Iran have a backup capability to enrich fuel domestically.


Richard said...

I tend to disagree with this assessment.

First, I don't believe Russia said it would not ship the fuel without enrichment suspension. Because Putin knows that simply isn't going to happen. Iran needs enrichment capability and can't trust any other nation to provide its fuel. So it's not going to stop enrichment.

Putin knows that even if Iran did suspend enrichment as a "confidence building measure", it would achieve nothing because the US intentions have nothing to do with enrichment.

So Putin didn't say that, except possibly as a means of delaying the war, and Olmert is far more likely to have been lying.

Also, I don't think Putin knows the US isn't going to attack Iran. I think the exact opposite is true. Putin knows and has no problem with it because he knows Iran will win. Putin's only problem with it is that it might destabilize things to Russia's disadvantage.

The important thing about Escobar's account is that Putin put forth a plan to Khamenei whereby they will "nullify" the Bush-Cheney war plans. Exactly what that plan is isn't clear.

But I suspect it involved conveying the HINT - not a direct threat - that Russia will take Iran's side on the issue, and use its oil as a weapon against any party siding with the US - such as the EU. It might also persuade China to dump the US dollar if the US attacks Iran - and to tell the US so via back diplomatic channels.

These threats, even if not publicly made, would throw the Pentagon and the Treasury into a panic. as well as the EU, and put enormous pressure on Bush and Cheney to back off.

If you look at how aggressive Putin has been at pushing back against the US in the last few months - bombers in the air, making Rice wait forty minutes to see him, etc. - he definitely is not going to kowtow to the US any further over Iran. In both cases - whether the US has to back off from attacking Iran, or whether it does attack Iran and loses (as he knows it will) - Putin is going to win this one. Putin is smart enough to run rings around Bush and Cheney.

I'm still in favor of asking Putin to run for US President in 2008 with British MP George Galloway as Vice-President...

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