Thursday, April 16, 2015

Russia: Three Impactful Moves Made This Week. Agree or Disagree & Why?

Let's call this Russia & the rest of the World day here at the blog.

Earlier today:  The Russia /China Entete- The West Needs to Take Seriously

Directly below an interesting article. This time from Sputnik News

Lavrov's pic, just cause he is so dam witty
Russia made three impactful moves in the course of only a week which show that it’s truly returned to being a Mideast power.
Russia's diplomacy over the past week proved to the world that there's more to Moscow's Mideast policy than supporting the democratically elected government in Damascus in its War on Terror. As important and honorable as that action is, the Western mainstream media has obsessed over it and myopically framed it in such a way as to make it seem like Russia has no other method of projecting its influence in the area. Millions of people in the Mideast already knew this to not be true, but now such a false inference no longer holds any weight to the Western audience as well, since Russia resolutely demonstrated to the entire world that it has a robust regional policy capable of transforming events on the ground. The days of Russian diplomatic dormancy in the Mideast are definitely over, and Moscow now rivals Washington as the most important non-regional actor there. Let's take a look at what happened this past week in Syria, Yemen, and Iran:

The Second Intra-Syrian Conference
Moscow II, as the event was called, was held in the Russian capital last week and was important for demonstrating that the first such meeting was not simply the one-time occurrence that the West made it out to be at the time. Russia's diplomatic initiative is finally starting to show signs of success, since both Damascus and the non-terrorist anti-government opposition (NTAGO) reached an agreement on five conflict resolution principles for the first time since the destabilization began over four years ago.

Not only that, but the UN is starting to take notice of the historic progress that is finally beginning to be made, since UN Special Envoy for Syria Steffan de Mistura has now said that the organization will try to commence a new round of peace talks beginning in May. Whether it'll be Moscow III or Geneva III is uncertain, but at this point there's no doubt that Russia is fulfilling the peacemaker role in war-ravaged Syria that has eluded all other actors' previous attempts, and that this alone makes Moscow a significant force for stability in the entire Mideast.

Russian plane evacuating people from Yemen at Chkalovsky Airport
The past week has also seen Russia take on a military role in the Mideast, with its aircraft and ships evacuating not only its own citizens from the beleaguered victim of Saudi aggression, but also those of other nations as well. Russia's humanitarian assistance to foreign nationals extends well past the allied states of Belarus and Tajikistan, since nationals from Poland, Ukraine, the US, and the UK were also rescued. The series of evacuation operations demonstrated that Russia is capable of rapidly deploying its armed forces to ever-changing war-time environments far from its borders, and also that such units can be used as instruments of peace and diplomacy.

The latter point is even more poignant when one recalls how the remaining Americans in Yemen had felt abandoned by their own government after having their repeated pleas for help fall on deaf ears. The irony is that the one country which Washington has tried to convince its citizens is ‘big, bad, and evil' happens to be the one that came to their aid when Uncle Sam failed to heed his call of duty. This historic instance of the Russian military saving some Americans that had been abandoned in a Mideast warzone shows the global audience that Moscow isn't blinded by New Cold War tensions when it comes to carrying out humanitarian operations, and serves as a striking rebuff to Western ‘commentators' who allege that Russia can never be a force for good in the world.
Russia also rescued Canadians:Canadians evacuated from Yemen, by Russia, confirmed by Canadian Government

The Russian-Iranian Strategic Partnership
Moscow and Tehran are moving towards a de-facto strategic partnership, which can be easily seen by the two groundbreaking announcements from earlier this week. It's now been confirmed by the Russian government that the rumored oil-for-goods program between Russia and Iran is actually a real policy that's already been implemented, showing that Moscow has wasted no time in trying to court the Iranian market after the proto-deal was agreed to a week earlier. Providing goods in exchange for resources is a strategic decision that creates valuable return customers in Iran, who will then be in need of maintenance and spare parts for their products. It's also a sign of deep friendship between the two Caspian neighbors and sets the groundwork for the tentative North-South economic corridor between Russia and India via Iran. The closer and faster that Russia economically moves towards Iran in the coming months, the more likely it is to successfully preempt imminent European competitors from establishing valuable market share in the country and perhaps one day using their future complex economic interdependence with Iran for nefarious political purposes. 
Flashback: Putin’s Mideast Gains Trump $ Loss From Iran Agreement
The second big move that Russia made towards Iran was the resumption of the stalled S-300 surface-to-air missile (SAM) sales that Tehran had long been asking for. The agreement was unilaterally frozen by an edict from then-President Medvedev in 2010 in order to show solidarity with Russia's Western partners in their sanctions against Iran (although the units themselves were never sanctioned by the international community). Furthermore, there may have also been a military logic to the decision since the US and Israel were at a hair's end of triggering a conventional war against Iran during that time, and news about the arrival of balance-of-power changing S-300s could have triggered a preemptive strike by either or before their window of opportunity was permanently removed. In this sense, although many observers at the time saw the shipment freeze as a sign of Russian weakness and geopolitical wavering, it may have actually been a sign of an astute understanding of the military-political situation between all the actors and could have prevented a larger conflict from erupting.
Reverting back to the present, President Putin rescinded the voluntary embargo and even spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in an effort to assuage the latter's hyped-up anxieties about the deal. It doesn't seem to have done much good because the Israeli leader is still fuming about this development, evidently because he understands that it will seriously hinder his country's ability to unilaterally strike Iran with symmetrical near-impunity. The big question is why the Russian government made its decision at this time, and it's telling that it occurred on the heels of the nuclear proto-deal. The geopolitical calculus has obviously changed to where the US is now more concerned with an indirect unconventional war against Iran in the future than a standard bombing campaign, hence its dismayed acceptance of Moscow's move and refusal to loudly protest it.
Israel's intransience is simply the ‘bad cop' of the ‘good cop, bad cop' dynamic between Washington and Tel-Aviv, as their publicized ‘fallout' is nothing more than a strategic illusion anyways. Nonetheless, the S-300 SAMs won't be delivered until the end of the year, so if the nuclear proto-deal falls through or the West cooks up a provocation, then the US-Israeli axis could still strike Iran while the opportunity remains.


  1. Hi Penny:

    I am starting to conclude that one of the main reasons why the US has made such a mess in the Middle East because it is on Russia's doorstep...and many of the countries are or were within Russia's sphere of influence. Iraq, Libya and Syria as examples. Perhaps history will see the US wars in the middle east as early efforts to contain Russia.

    1. Hey Greencrow!

      Good thoughts! I can see that.

  2. Putin also cast aside Kudrin, again..


    Raided Khodorkovsky foundation which begs the ongoing question in view of Putin unquestionably knowing (see comments below on the sanction game) that weakness (merciful) had ~0% chance of reversing NATO policy? Days ago Rosneft settled the Yukos case specifically calling out Steven Theede

    "When Mr. Theede resigned from Yukos last year, The New York Times said his tenure had brought Western-style “corporate legitimacy” to the company. Within a month, Russian authorities announced that he and three other Western executives were under investigation for using a Dutch foundation to illegally take control of Yukos assets. Mr. Theede has said that that came as payback for “not caving in” to Mr. Putin’s government

    1. I did a big post on the Yukos Dutch foundation some time back, so I must check out these links and get myself up to speed

    2. Link back to the post from 2013

    3. Russia recent comment on the Netherlands: Join missile defense be targeted

    4. That headline is misleading, I prefer direct quotes

      "Denmark will become a part of the threat against Russia. It will be less peaceful, and relations with Russia will be damaged"

      I read no direct quotes regarding being targeted-

    5. Neighbors:)

      "A nuclear strikes exchange between the United States and Russia will lead to the complete destruction of the United States, leaving Russia and China in a far better position, editor of the French portal Europesolidaire Jean-Paul Baquiast said. "Chances of the United States to destroy Russia without consequences for itself are small," Baquiast said. However, even the highly efficient S-500 missile system, which Russia is currently working on, would be unable to protect the country against a massive launch of ballistic missiles from US submarines, he noted. In turn, Russia would launch its missiles from its submarines off the coast of the United States. And if the Americans manage to hit only a part of the Russian territory due to its large size, the US will be destroyed completely, the journalist wrote. "

      North Fleet back up exercising as a UK limped home with damage few weeeks ago

      "The collision ripped a six-foot hole at the top of the vessel, and although defense officials refuse to disclose exact details of where and when it happened, they insist the damage occurred after hitting floating ice and not after a collision with another vessel, The Mail on Sunday reports. "

      2 days later the Russian nuke sub fire

  3. Why did Russia support embargo resolution at UN council against Yemen.

  4. Not to speak on behalf of anon but there are many good reasons.

    1) First and foremost, Russia's resources are not unlimited. It's in for a long confrontation with US/UK/EU/Zios and so has to pick it's battles.

    2) Resolution is meaningless in practical terms since nobody was ever going to arm the Yemeni freedom fighters overtly. Covertly is just as possible now as before.

    3) At least Russia abstained which is better than anyone else did.

    4) For better or worse, Russia has to try to develop relations with Egypt and other countries so no need to antagonize them with a veto of a resolution of little practical value.

    I do hope that Russia will highlight the plight of Yemenis and offer resolutions demanding humanitarian aid be allowed in. Let the US veto that if it wants.


      Who is paying that 3.5B bill? Saudi

  5. To Greencrow - Also the US mess affects Western Europe too, with many fleeing those countries to Europe. They don't seem to be going on foot or by boat to the US.
    The break-up of Yugoslavia hurts both Russia and Europe though I doubt it impinges on the US so much.

    What did Mrs Kagan say: "Fuck the EU!'

    The US has , next door, a country run by drug-cartels, it seems , and apparently the US sold them guns in a rather fast and furious way.
    Try searching for 'Fast and Furious' and you get a lot of links to the movies of that name.

    I assume the lack of focus on the 43 students arrested and passed on to the drug cartel for execution is because it shows effortless collusion twixt governemnt, police and narco-criminals.


    1. thanks Aferrismoon :)

      The US mess does indeed affect Western Europe- intentionally so, I must add.