Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Russian Chess

IHT: The United States is prepared to offer concessions to Russia to soften its position on Iran and Kosovo

This is much bigger than most news organizations seem to realize. Russia has gotten exactly what it wants. Is this bad? Actually, it could lead to an end of the Iranian nuclear program.

What Russia wants
If one is to make any analysis, geopolitical or not, you have to look at what both sides want. In our case, the two sides are Russia and, of course, the U.S.

Russia is primarily looking to expand its sphere of influence back to the borders of the Soviet Union. The Russians realize they have a short window of opportunity to regain influence while the U.S. is bogged down in the Middle East.

But there are two serious roadblocks to expansion: the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE) and Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).

The Russians want these treaties amended.

The only problem: this is not in America’s interest.

Consequently, Russia has had to use leverage to attempt to force America into signing amended treaties.

Russian leverage
Russia has used this leverage, essentially geopolitical blackmail, in two primary areas: Iran and Kosovo.

On Iran, it has blocked all but very weak sanctions at the U.N., supplied Iran with weapons and resources, and been a total irritation. As I plan to write about in more detail next week, the purpose of Iranian sanctions is to isolate Iran more than anything else. Therefore, with Russians blocking sanctions, Iran cannot be successfully isolated.

On Kosovo, Russia has appeared to even consider recognizing Kosovo. This has become more and more problematic and the deadline for a deal approaches (December).

And that brings us to today’s program.

So is Russia an ally?
Hell no. There’s still the INF treaty, which is Russia’s least favorite treaty. Moreover, there’s another treaty the Russians love, and would like to see extended.

But will Russia be more assisting in our efforts at the U.N.? Most likely.