Russia has reportedly ordered the military to plan war games to
deal with potential spillover from a US-Iran conflict.
As tensions ratchet up in the Persian Gulf, the Kremlin is
signaling that it will use all its diplomatic influence to oppose
war and, according to a leading Moscow newspaper, has ordered the
military to prepare for any possible spillover from a conflict
between Iran and the US into the sensitive post-Soviet Caucasus
Russia will block any further sanctions against Iran in the UN
Security Council, a Foreign Ministry official said Tuesday, because
it believes rising tensions could trigger a conflict that would
destabilize the wider region. Last week Russian deputy prime
minister and former ambassador to NATO Dmitry Rogozin warned that
any Western attack on Iran would constitute "a direct threat to
[Russian] national security."
The independent Moscow daily Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported Monday
that this year's annual military exercises in Russia's south, Kavkaz
2012, will be much larger than usual and organized around the
premise of a war that begins with an attack on Iran but spreads to
neighboring Armenia and Azerbaijan, and draws Russia into a regional
maelstrom. The newspaper said the war games, which are usually
confined to Russian territory, might this year include maneuvers in
the breakaway Georgian statelets of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and
perhaps also in Russian-allied Armenia.
"We believe that sanctions relative to Iran have lost their
usefulness," Gennady Gatilov, Russia's deputy foreign minister, told
a Moscow press conference Tuesday. "We will oppose any new
resolution [on UN sanctions against Iran]....
"Russia would consider any use of force against the territory of
Iran unacceptable. That would make the situation even more
critical.... Unfortunately, many [Western] government leaders are
not restraining themselves and are speaking openly about a military
strike against Iran," Mr. Gatilov added.
A harsh sanctions regime, signed into law by President Obama two
weeks ago, would target Iran's ability to earn cash through oil
exports by penalizing Western companies who clear payments through
Iran's central bank. The European Union could enact its own
sanctions against Iranian oil exports as early as next week.
Doesn't want nuclear weapons in Iran, but doesn't want war
Russian experts say that Moscow opposes Iran's alleged drive for
atomic weapons, but may fear the consequences of a military strike
aimed at curbing the country's nuclear program more. …