Russia’s strategic aircraft, the Tu-160 or White Swan, the world’s largest supersonic bomber. A pair of them touched down in Venezuela this week as Moscow announced big new arms sales.
Russia defied the United States yesterday by announcing plans to sell military hardware to Iran and Venezuela.
The head of the state arms exporter said that he was negotiating to sell antiaircraft systems to Iran despite American objections. Russia has already delivered 29 Tor-M1 missile systems under a $700 million (£386 million) deal with Iran in 2005.
“Contacts between our countries are continuing and we do not see any reason to suspend them,” Anatoli Isaikin, the general director of Rosoboronexport, told the RIA-Novosti news agency at an arms fair in South Africa.
Reports have circulated for some time that the Kremlin is preparing to sell its S300 surface-to-air missile system to Iran, offering greater protection against a possible US or Israeli attack on the Islamic republic’s nuclear facilities. The missiles have a range of more than 90 miles (150km).
The Deputy Prime Minister, Igor Sechin, one of the closest allies of Mr Putin, the Prime Minister, visited Venezuela and Cuba this week. Kommersant, the financial newspaper, said that Russia was forming “alliance relations” with the two anti American regimes as a response to US involvement in former Soviet republics.
The Russian moves mark a serious deterioration in relations between Washington and Moscow. Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State, threated to block Russia’s membership of key international organisations. She told the Kremlin that its “authoritarian policies” could prevent it from joining the World Trade Organisation and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, which coordinates economic policies among industrialised countries. In an outspoken speech to the German Marshall Fund, an institution promoting greater cooperation between America and Europe, Dr Rice said: “The picture emerging is of a Russia increasingly authoritarian at home and aggressive abroad.
“Russia’s bid to join the World Trade Organisation is now in question. And so too is its attempt to join the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.”
She added: “Russia’s international standing is worse now than at any time since 1991.” http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article4781027.eceIt is clear that the success of the US operation in Iraq, as well as the desire of former Soviet Republics such as Georgia and the Ukraine to formalize political and military ties with the West has placed Russia in a reactive posture.
And so we see that Vlad Putin has little choice but to try to counter these moves by deepening ties with anyone who holds a passionate hatred for America.
But these moves come at a steep cost. The rest of the world is taking a dim view of Russia’s choice of friends and her taste for military adventurism.
Aside from the friendly folks in Iran, Venezuela and their proxies.
At this point, Russia undoubtedly feels it is in a position to manage the Mullahs.
But we may see the tables turn.
The Putin regime can ill afford a return to horrific incidents like the slaughter of 300 school children by Chechen terrorists at Beslan.
The price of calling off the dogs may get steeper, especially if Israel or the United States succeeds in destroying Iran’s nuclear capacity.
Adding to the stress is the increasingly isolated position Russia finds herself in concerning the rest of the economic and diplomatic world
Messers Putin, Sechin and Medvedev may one day find themselves staring at a communique that states “Join us in wiping out the Zionists or prepare to face terrorism again on your own soil.”
Having been driven into a one way street of dependance on Iran as a means to alleviate the threat of terrorism and counterbalance the growing American influence in the region, the hooks may very well be getting ready to be set.