For the last few days we have been bombarded with words that appear ‘peaceful’ and problem-solving from Russia with love. Of course, ‘no change’ benefits mother Russia the most as his government’s gas revenues (and political power) will continue to flow from Europe (a quarter of Russian government income comes from being Europe’s gas supplier). So it will come as no surprise that amid the Mother Theresa acts, The Telegraph reports that Putin is readying delivery of more S-300 air-defense missile systems to Iran and will continue to discuss “working together in the nuclear energy spehere.” Combine that with experts’ views that Russia’s plan to dismantle Syria’s stockpiles of mustard gas, sarin, VX nerve agents is a long shot; initially “sounding attractive, but very quickly, operational problems could derail obtaining international control, much less actually destroying the arsenal.” It would appear, despite all the chatter, that Putin is increasing his power-base in the region.
Iran-Aid (via The Telegraph),
President Hassan Rouhani is set to meet Putin on the sidelines of a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation held in Kyrgyzstan on Friday, in the newly-elected centrist cleric’s first meeting with a major world leader. The Kommersant business daily reported Wednesday that Putin will offer to supply Iran S-300 air defence missile systems as well as build a second reactor at the Bushehr nuclear plant.
The S-300 offer would be a particularly contentious development given it would essentially revive a contract for similar missile systems that Russia cancelled in 2010 after heavy Israeli and US pressure. Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Kommersant that Putin and Rowhani were expected to discuss “working together in the nuclear energy sphere” and “questions of military technical cooperation” at the summit in Bishkek.
Chemical Weapons Decomissioning ain’t gonna happen (via WSJ). Of course, the practicalities of dismantling and storing these weapons is hugely problematic.
Carrying out Russia’s plan to dismantle Syria’s stockpiles of mustard gas and sarin and VX nerve agents is viewed as a long shot by many diplomats, top experts and current and former U.S. officials.
“The Russian proposal sounds attractive, but very quickly, operational problems could derail obtaining international control, much less actually destroying the arsenal,” said Amy Smithson, an expert on chemical weapons at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Washington, D.C.
Syria’s chemical-weapons arsenal has been developed and stored in at least eight sites across the Arab country. Many of the missiles and artillery pieces are believed to have been moved since civil war broke out in 2011, according to current and former U.S. officials.
A U.S. official cast doubt about how any deal to strip Mr. Assad of his weapons could be verified. “That is a problem,” the official said. “How verifiable does it need to be? Getting 50% or 60% of the chemical weapons is not good enough. We would have to get 90% to 95%.”
Mr. Assad’s arsenal is significantly larger than Col. Gadhafi’s was. And many experts don’t believe the Syrian leader intends to give up his weapons, in part, because his government is still at war.
“The Libyans basically decided to show us everything,” said Ms. DeSutter. “I can’t believe this will be the case with the Syrians.”
and by way of background – why Putin will defend this side of the game… (via Golem XIV’s blog),