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February 18, 2005
Our Friends, The Russians

Russian president Vladimir Putin has declared that the Iranian mullahs don't want nuclear weapons and plans to help them build the nuclear reactor at Buhsher, according to a Reuters report this morning:

Putin's defense of Iran, where Russia is building a nuclear power plant, comes in the face of U.S. concerns that Tehran could be using Russian know-how to covertly build a nuclear weapon.

"The latest steps by Iran convince Russia that Iran indeed does not intend to produce nuclear weapons and we will continue to develop relations in all sectors, including peaceful atomic energy," Putin told Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Hassan Rohani.

"We hope Iran will strictly stick to all agreements with Russia or the international community," Putin said at the start of talks with Rohani at the Kremlin.

Bush may need to re-evalute his relationship with Putin after these developments. Putin has increasingly become more autocratic, dismantling key democratic processes in Russia and moving to nationalize industries by crushing private-sector companies like Yukos. The Bush administration appeared to tolerate this to some degree in a nod to realpolitik in exchange for Russian cooperation against Islamist terror and a free hand in Iraq.

However, with Russia acting to enable a nuclear Iran, that equation no longer holds. Putin appears to want a resumption of Russian dominance in the area; he certainly seems to want Russia on equal footing with the EU-3 in Iranian negotiations. Perhaps he believes that reaching accommodation with the Iranian mullahs will ease the Islamist pressures that Putin himself feels in Chechnya and elsewhere. If it's not quite the Great Game all over again, it's only because the stakes are higher and the danger much more lethal.

Bush needs to either reel Putin back in, or he needs to start looking at alternatives in Russia to check Putin's reach.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at February 18, 2005 6:46 AM

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» history repeats itself, the second time as farce from ThoughtsOnline
Remember when Bush gazed into the eyes of Russian President Vladimir Putin and decided he knew the mans soul, here was a man he could trust? [Read More]

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. . . Putin must be drinking the same Kool-Aid that Jimmy Carter's been slurping for the past 30 years. [Read More]

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» What's Russia Up To?... from doctorzhibloggo
Captain Ed posts about Putin's nuclear overtures to Iran and writes - However, with Russia acting to enable a nuclear Iran, that equation no longer holds. Putin appears to want a resumption of Russian dominance in the area; he certainly [Read More]

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Tracked on February 18, 2005 8:30 PM



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