June 17, 2007

The Putin Bait-And-Switch

Vladimir Putin surprised George Bush at the G-8 summit by offering to help the US place the missile-shield system in Azerbaijan rather than Poland and the Czech Republic. Given the conditions of the offer, which was that the system would remain in Russian control rather than American, the US has responded cooly to Putin's horsetrading. Now it looks as though Putin had no intention of staging our system anywhere, as Iranian diplomats have told reporters:

Iran said Sunday it had received indications from Russia's president that he would not follow through with an offer to allow the U.S. to use a radar station in neighboring Azerbaijan for missile defense against Tehran.

Earlier this month, Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed Washington use a radar station in northeast Azerbaijan — rented by Moscow — to counter a potential threat from Iran. It was a surprise counteroffer to U.S. plans to install a missile defense shield in eastern Europe to protect NATO allies against a missile launch by Tehran.

But Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said Sunday that Russian officials had indicated to Tehran that Putin would not allow the plan to go through.

"It seems Russia does not plan to make decisions that may cause instability and insecurity in the region, where it (Russia) is located," said Hosseini. Azerbaijan shares borders with both Russia to the north and Iran to the south.

So Putin has been exposed -- again -- as a double-dealer. He never intended to sponsor American military assets in Azerbaijan, especially a missile shield. That would give the US a very strategic position with which to monitor Russian activity in the Caucasus, and we already have too many of those positions now for Putin's comfort. He wanted to trip Bush up at the summit and burnish Putin's image as a reasonable autocrat.

The issue of Iranian missiles has reached crisis proportions with the Iranian effort to produce nuclear material. Their latest rocket, the Shahab-3, has a range of 1,200 miles, as the Iranians acknowledged in 2005. That puts Eastern Europe within range of the rocket, which is why the US has focused its anti-missile efforts in that area. Poland and the Czech Republic have aligned themselves with the US on a missile screen designed to defend against a small number of missiles -- but not the overwhelming attack Russia could stage on Europe.

Reports on Iranian missile development warn that Teheran is working on the Shahab-4 as a military weapon. That missile will have a range of 1,900 miles, which will put most of Europe in its sights. The Iranians claim the Shahab-4 will only be used for commercial space ventures and not for military purposes, when they talk about it all.

The big-mouthed Iranian diplomats have probably scrapped the Putin gambit to divert American efforts to build the missile shield. Putin's frustration will continue, and he will look for the next method to split Europe from the US over the shield. That will come through extortion over energy supplies, probably when the summer heat taxes electrical power. Expect the next move to be against Europe in late July.


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Comments (2)

Posted by NahnCee [TypeKey Profile Page] | June 17, 2007 12:20 PM

Why on earth would Putin confide his plans to Iran? And f he *did* tell Iran his Good Secret Stuff, why on earth would Iranian diplomats pass it along?

Doesn't this sound like big-mouthed Iranian diplomats are trying to make themselves seem more important than they really are?

Although I have always thought that Putin's proposal sounded fishy. I just thought he wanted access to American technology and was willing to play nice-nice for a moment in the hopes of learning how to do stuff that the Russians currently don't have the capability to do.

And that after having set himself up as neo-Czar for life, his ego is inflated to the point where he thinks if he waves his little Russian wand, not only can he get people poisoned long-distance, but he can get Uncle Sam to roll over and play dead, too.

Posted by Old Mike | June 17, 2007 2:09 PM

"a missile screen designed to defend against a small number of missiles -- but not the overwhelming attack Russia could stage on Europe."
From the start everyone has known that this missile defense system is totally ineffective against more than a few missiles and most think it would need to be very lucky to thwart a strike of five or less missiles, so we all should know Putin's initial rant and subsequent offer were not reality based. Add that he seems to be providing air security to Iranian interests and aiding them in their campaign to have the power to start WWIII and you have to wonder just which and how many players is Putin working a game on.