En Français: http://www.wmaker.net/infopnv/Sanctions-Contre-l-Iran-La-Russie-S-Est-Elle-Soumise-Au-Dictat-Des-USA-En-Echange-D-Un-Coke-Et-D-Un-Hamburger_a2238.html
July 14, 2010
In recent months, Russia´s policy started to retreat from some nationalist positions that were taken by then President Vladimir Putin. Russian President Dimitri Medvedev changed Russian foreign policy around. He signed the new START treaty, agreed to transit war materiel to Afghanistan and has supported US-sponsored sanctions against Iran.
Actually, Putin´s strategy to reassert Russian control in Central Asia and the Caucasus and prevent the US from increasing its influence in these regions was very succesful. Russia has developed a military alliance, the Cooperation and Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which has been seen as a counterweight to NATO and US penetration in the region. In August 2008, Russian army achieved a rapid victory over the Georgian forces that had invaded pro-Russian breakaway province of South Ossetia. In the political terrain, Ukraine´s recent elections have brought the pro-Russian candidate Viktor Yanukovich to power and eliminated the anti-Russian and pro-Western candidate Viktor Yushchenko. The country´s bid to join NATO has been killed by Yanukoich. Moreover, Moscow is now closer to its goal of creating a custom union with Belarus and Kazakhstan.
However, things appear to be changing. In June, Medvedev made a visit to the US where he was showed drinking Coke and eating hamburgers with his “new” friend Barack Obama. On July 13, the Voice of Russia reported that Medvedev had held a meeting with Russian ambassadors and diplomats in which he said that Russia “needs special alliances for modernization first of all with Germany, France, Italy, the EU in general, and with the US.” For the first time, the former Soviet countries seem to occupy a secondary place as strategic partners of Moscow.
President of the American University in Moscow Edward Lozansky told the Voice of Russia that the country´s priority is currently its economic and technological modernization effort. “Despite Russia’s undoubtedly essential contacts with the CIS (former Soviet) countries, the success of modernization efforts today is above all determined by adequate relations and investment exchange with the United States. Our country’s priorities may vary over time, and for the time being the top priority is the US.”
This new policy has led Russia to downgrade its relations with Iran. Under Washington´s pressure, Russia has cancelled the S-300 missile contract, which was signed with Iran in 2005, when Russia´s relations with the US were at an all-time low after Washington supported anti-Russian colour revolutions in Kyrgyzstan, Georgia and Ukraine.
The decision came as an unpleasant surprise to many. After the UN Security Council approved the new sanctions, on June 9, Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said “Russia is in no way bound by the UN Security Council resolution in relation to supplies of the S-300 air-defense systems to Iran, and work on that contract is underway.” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also showed his support for the agreement to the end, saying on 11 June that the decision to cancel would require a presidential decree.
The cancellation of the contract was a success for Washington and a blow to those who had come to expect Russia to take an independent role in world affairs. First of all, by bowing to US pressure Russia showed that it is not already a reliable partner for the developing countries that trusted Moscow in the past to get weapons for their defense. If Russian contracts ultimately depend on US adquiescence, many clients in the word will have second thoughts before buying weapons to Russia.
The cancellation will cost Russia around 400 million dollars in a forfeit penalty, in addition to the 800 million dollars of the sale. Commentators in the Russian media have been highly critical. Defence Ministry adviser Ruslan Pukhov told Global Research that Iran, which has been buying 500 million dollars worth of arms from Russia annually, could now turn to China for its future weapons and military equipment needs. Iran has already cancelled plans to purchase Russian civilian aircraft. “Russia is losing the whole Middle East arms market because it wants to kowtow before America,” commentator Alexei Pushkov said.
Actually, Medvedev would be a complete naive person if he thinks that the US has any intention of allowing Russia to become a superpower or sharing its influence with Moscow.
While Medvedev was tasting his Coke and hamburger with Obama, he completely ignored that the FBI had already informed Obama that it was about to break an alleged Russian spy network. Therefore, Medvedev´s position in Russia became an embarrassing fiasco. Reuters reported a recent poll in which 53% of Russians claimed that they believed the arrests had been orchestrated by the US intelligence services. They said the arrests “were a provocation by American special services aimed at undermining relations between the United States and Russia,” according to Russia's Levada Center. Only 10% believed that the US had arrested real Russian spies.
Some analysts share this opinion and think that the arrests were aimed at undermining Russian-US rapprochement. They argue that detente is not in the interest of either the Pentagon or military industries, which obtain huge benefits from international conflicts.
On the other hand, US plan to station 100 US Patriot missiles 80 kms from the Russian border in Poland is going ahead. Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov claims that these plans are “unjustified.” Russia has been critical of the US anti-missile system, arguing that it is a threat to its sovereignty and that it seeks to undermine its ballistic capability.
Washington is also wary of Russia´s attempts to develop its economic and security ties with Europe, especially with Germany. Last year, Moscow proposed a wew European security treaty in Europe and Germany welcomed the offer. However, NATO and the US reject any agreement competing with the Atlantic Alliance in the field of security. The US does not want to see Russia as a strong member of an independent Europe, but a weak and isolated country.
Therefore, the US´s lack of interest towards a real partnership with Russia is not the only challenge for Medvedev´s new political orientation. There is also an erroneous belief on the part of Russian leaders that some countries having an independent policy -such as Iran, Belarus or Venezuela for example- do not have another choice that developing their ties with Russia -independently of the way Russia is treating them-. However, these countries have more options than treating with Moscow. They may develop their links with new emerging powers, such as China, Brazil and others, instead or setting up greater regional alliances in order to increase their economic and military capacities.
The Declaration of Tehran, signed on May 17, showed that some emerging powers -such as Brazil and Turkey- are now expanding their roles in the international stage and playing a decisive role in world affairs. Iran itself is rising in the Caspian-Central Asian geopolitics. In fact, Iran along with Muslim Turkey and progressive emerging power Brazil created a strategic precedence, showing to the world that when things are done free from Western interference, better results are achieved.
Russia needs a Iran as an energy partner to develop its strategies and regulate prices. Iran and Russia are drafting a road map for future energy cooperation likely to be signed during the Iranian oil minister's upcoming visit to Moscow. Iran's Deputy Oil Minister for International and Commercial Affairs, Hossein Esmaeli Shahmirzadi, said Iran and Russia have presented their proposals for drafting the road map, Iranian Oil Ministry's website Shana reported on July 13.
Iranian Oil Minister Massoud Mirkazemi arrived in Moscow on July 14 to hold talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Shmatko. A statement by the Russian oil ministry said, “The ministers will discuss the current situation in Russia-Iranian energy cooperation and will outline prospects for future cooperation.” “The ministries will study issues linked to the creation of favourable conditions to intensify and make cooperation in the energy sphere between Iran and Russia more concrete,” it added.
Russia also realizes that if it loses Iran as its associate, it will also lose an important bargaining leverage against the West. Actually, if Iran changed its policies to get closer to Western countries, it would prove to be a strategic disaster for Moscow, where leaders remember how important the Shah´s Iran was within the US strategy to encircle the Soviet Union during the Cold War. If Iran reached a compromise with the West, Russia would become the big loser of the game.
Furthermore, a clear pro-US stance on the Iran issue would fill the Russian Muslim population (more than 20 million) with outrage. There is no doubt that the Islamic factor will have increasingly importance for the design of future policies in Russia.
Therefore, Russian short-sighted subordination to US polices will be very costly for Moscow. Russia has showed it is no longer the alternative power in which developing countries could trust on. Although Moscow will try to rebuild its damaged relation with Iran by offering some compromises, such as the upcoming launch of the Bushehr nuclear plant, Iran will probably have understood that the creation of new alliances and networks among the South emerging powers are the best way to build a new multipolar world and counteract US hegemony and threats.