Russia has reminded the U.S. what happens when you stack the deck and then ask your opponent to pick a card: he might just upset the table and storm out of the room. Russia did the equivalent when it dismissed the IAEA report on Iran’s nuclear program and rejected calls for further economic sanctions against that country, calling it a step toward “regime change”:
“The world community will see all additional sanctions against Iran as an instrument of regime change in Tehran,” Gennadi M. Gatilov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, said in comments to the Interfax news agency. “This approach is unacceptable to us, and the Russian side does not intend to consider such a proposal.”
There are a number of issues bugging the Kremlin. First, the IAEA rejected Russian and Chinese entreaties that the final report not include certain material that they deemed objectionable. Second, the IAEA’s director, Yukio Amano is increasingly seen as a creature of the U.S. and Israel, thus rendering his credibility close to nil. Third, the Russians are bridling at the pressure the U.S. and Israel are trying to exert on them to invoke draconian new sanctions. Fourth, they can’t have enjoyed seeing a scientist, Vyacheslav Danilenko, who worked at one time in Russia deceitfully raked over the coals in the report.
When you put your relationship with a country under such pressure it’s only natural that it might break. That’s what happened today. The reaction may help quiet the braying dogs here and in Israel calling for a military attack. If you can’t even get Russia and the Chinese to go for more sanctions imagine what they and others similarly disposed in the world community might do if Israel attacked Iran.
My only concern is that Israel may not care what anyone says or thinks. It may go ahead with an attack and leave the U.S. to clean up the mess that will remain of the Russian relationship afterward.