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Does Russia want a war between the West and Iran?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Winner, Sep 19, 2009.

  1. Winner

    Winner Diverse in Unity

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    Many people seem to believe that the Russians are now going to cooperate with the US in dealing with the Iranian missile/nuclear threat. I am going to explain why that's nothing but a wishful thinking.

    A war between Iran and members of Western alliance (including Israel) is in Russian interest. Why? Because it is the only thing that can allow the Kremlin to finance its great power-like foreign policy and military spending.

    Falling oil prices and the economic crisis hit the Russian economy hard. According to IMF and World Bank estimates, the oil and gas sector generated more than 64 percent of Russia’s export revenues in 2006 (source). GlobalSecurity.org says:

    In other words, the oil money fueled the Russian military transformation and buildup. Russian plans for a massive overhaul of their military are now threatened by falling oil prices, which are about to end the years of budget surpluses:

    (another related article on VOANews.com: Cheap Oil May Spark Russian Budget Crisis)

    Not to mention that the economy itself is tanking (it is expected to contract by 7-9% this year), the Russian reserve fund is emptying fast, and a part of the middle class created in the Putin's years of economic growth is now threatened by return to poverty. The one thing that could change this is a return to high oil/natural gas prices which would inject more money into the budget and allow the Kremlin to maintain the kind of spending it has become used to in the last decade.

    ---

    So the question is - how could they change the world's prices of oil? Well, if you want to increase a price of something, reducing its availability usually does the trick. In our case, disrupting the oil production in the Persian Gulf would dramatically increase the price of oil, for following reasons:

    - Middle East continues to hold most of world's proven reserves of oil
    - Middle East continues to be the key exporter of oil
    - most of this oil is transported from Persian Gulf through the Strait of Hormuz


    Iran is in position to seriously threaten, perhaps even close the Strait of Hormuz for a short period of time if hostilities erupted between Iran and the West. Even worse, Iran could use its short and medium-range missiles to attack vulnerable oil infrastructure in Persian Gulf, potentially disrupting the production for years. Moreover, it isn't that hard to hit an oil supertanker. These ships are not designed to withstand missile attacks, mines or artillery hits. Even if Iran was hit hard by the West, it would probably continue to threaten all shipping in the Gulf, making it too dangerous for use by civilians ships.

    Iran would of course suffer devastating losses (its refineries would be bombed, total oil/gas embargo would ruin its economy etc.), but this would actually play exactly into Russia's hands - it would further drive the oil/gas prices up.

    Cordesman writes:

    I imagine that a Western or Israeli strike against Iranian nuclear facilities wouldn't be received well in Tehran and the country would retaliate by any means necessary, if only to show the world that it can.



    So, this leaves the question how would Russia try to cause such a war.

    In my opinion, it will further torpedo any attempts by the West to solve this thing via diplomacy - it will not support any serious sanctions or too hard resolutions by the UN Security Council. This serves the purpose of making the regime in Iran feel more secure and thus more stubborn. This is futher supported by Russian arms sales to Iran, in particular the sales of Russia's S-300 anti-aircraft missiles, and their assistance in transfer of nuclear technologies. It appears to be a cynical move by Moscow to make Tehran more intransigent - if the Iranian regime feels more safe from an attack, it will be even less willing to negotiate about its nuclear program. Deployment of advanced anti-aircraft systems would make Israeli strike even more difficult, which could force Israel to act faster than it would have otherwise.

    Another possible gain is a greater dependence of post-war Iran on Russia. Russia would thus at least partially recover its lost influence in the region.

    History gives us example that Russians have already used this strategy in the past, albeit for different reasons. Soviet misinformations and arms sales contributed to the 1967 Six-Days War and 1973 Yom Kippur War between Israel and its Arab neighbors, which forced the Arabs to depend more on the Soviet Union. Soviet support for Iraq and Iran helped to prolong the war between them.

    Today, Russia has an objective and means to achieve it, so why should it behave differently? It has showed how willing it is to use oil/gas as a weapon. It's foreign policy is essentially opportunistic, it follows its interest with absolute cynicism - and that's not a moral judgment on my part, but a simple statement of fact.

    ---

    To summarize this: Russia would profit from a war in the Middle East enormously. Oil prices would rise dramatically, filling Russian coffers with petrodollars and 'gasoeuros' again. This would allow Kremlin to continue in its military reforms and buildup, as well as welfare spending designed to keep the public firmly behind Putin or whoever is in charge.

    In short, this isn't far-fetched at all. I am not saying there is a direct evidence, but I think I've demonstrated that it is in Russian interest. If the Russians decide to follow it or not, that's a big unknown here, but judging from the latest Russian moves it is probable they will follow it.


    (and I am not the only one who thinks that:

    Radio Free Europe:

    )

    Spoiler :
    First one who calls me a Russophobe without refuting my points wins Dmitry Sidorov's award for aggressive ignorance :trophy:
     
  2. Sharwood

    Sharwood Rich, doctor nephew

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    You're a Russophobe.

    I'm not bothering to read all of that, so this will just be opinion. I don't think Russia wants a war between the West and Iran. Certainly not a nuclear war. But they are interested in strengthening Iran in order to use it to help balance Western power in the Middle East.
     
  3. Abaddon

    Abaddon Deity

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    Well put together Winner.
     
  4. Gelion

    Gelion Captain

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    /thread

    Russia does not want a war with Iran. Russian politicians know that such a war would be the last one before a Western (USian) attack on Russia.
     
  5. Riffraff

    Riffraff Deity

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    You definately make a point that they could benifit from such a war. But if such a war does start, then it's on the West, not on Russia...
     
  6. Camikaze

    Camikaze Administrator Administrator

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    Question: Is the reserve fund referred to the Russian Stabilization Fund?

    So a war between Iran and the West may be beneficial to Russia, in terms of increasing the price of oil. But it isn't a long term solution to their economic woes, but would most likely be a long term geopolitical problem, with a weakened Iran and a strengthened west inevitably resulting. So, in the long run, it probably wouldn't be beneficial for Russia.

    Plus, Russia's economy, albeit volatile, is also quite likely to significantly improve in the coming years. They wouldn't want to risk that potential.
     
  7. Princeps

    Princeps More bombs than God

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    The price of energy will rise again as the economy improves. Likewise, the Russian economy is tanking because of a global recession and is also likely to stabilize once the situation improves. I don't think the Russian government would resort to such radical measures, given the risks.

    And secondly, there is no way in hell that Iran would go to war with Israel or the US, powers that are absolutely overwhelmingly more powerful than Iran in almost all respects. Such scenarios exist only in the minds of paranoid neocons and stupid Israeli politicians. At most, Iran might continue to support anti-US/Israeli organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah.

    Consider the embarrassment to Moscow if they were EXPOSED trying to provoke hostilities between Iran and the US? Iran would refuse to go to war and point to the Moscow, and the US media would be in an anti-Russian frenzy.

    Oh, but wait. I'm sure winner thinks that Russians Putinists and Iranian Islamofascists are all part of some monolithic conspiracy.
     
  8. aronnax

    aronnax Let your spirit be free

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    Winner, you made an excellent post and Russia does stand to benefit greatly if the US/EU was to declare war upon Iran.

    But what I fail to comprehend is that today's government live in the 21st century. The era of secret agreements and Cold War and Political Realism is behind us. I have trouble believing that Moscow is willing to incite destructive war between major powers. I have trouble believing most governments do. I know politicians are a rogue lot. But I still have some faith in (European) Politicians that they do not wish the ills of a greedy war upon governments. That they still remember that war of all sorts are evil.

    Perhaps I am being naive. But I think that (European) Politicians draw the line at causing selfish war.
     
  9. Winner

    Winner Diverse in Unity

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    The price is yours: :trophy2:

    I'm not bothering to read all of that,[/QUOTE]

    So shut up :p Seriously, if this is how you deal with arguments, it's a pity.

    It's mentioned in the article I believe.

    If Kremlin was seeking a long-term solution, it would at least try to make Russia less dependent on export of raw materials. Read the article at the end of the OP - it seems that the Russian government is looking for a "quick fix".

    If there was some sort of conflict in the Middle East, the price of oil would skyrocket and stay high for a long time, giving Russia enough time to accumulate more money, proceed with re-armament and ignore thing's like "conservative spending".

    In fact, Russia could emerge from the crisis much stronger than before.

    1) Iranian regime would most likely survive and calm down after a while, but it would become even more dependent on Russia geopolitically - thus the Russian influence would increase, not decrease.
    2) Western attack on Iran could be used by Russian state media to strengthen the image of "Western enemies" the current government in Moscow uses to distract its own people from internal problems of Russia.
    3) The West would be hit hard by high oil prices, which would complicate its recovery from the financial crisis, whereas Russian revenues from oil export would remain high. Ergo, the relative position of Russia vis-a-vis the West would improve greatly.
    4) The war would further diminish Western reputation in the world and make more countries more receptive towards Russian overtures.
    5) Elimination of Iranian oil/gas exports resulting from the war would make Europe even more dependent on Russian gas, hardly an opportunity the Russians would like to miss.

    You're right than in a very long-term, it could contribute to the downfall of the Iranian regime which would indeed harm Russian interests, but from Kremlin's point of view, this is a remote eventuality far outweighed by the short to medium-term benefits.

    Hardly :pat:

    :lmao:

    I thought you've already recovered from your paranoid delusions about a Western conspiracy against Russia. I see I was too optimistic. In any case, if you have no arguments in hand, please go away, I am interested in real objections.
     
  10. Sharwood

    Sharwood Rich, doctor nephew

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    No, this is how I deal with arguments I don't care about. Even if Russia did want such a war, it aint gonna happen.
     
  11. Masada

    Masada Koi-san!

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    With your economy tanking, the potential for civil unrest and the loss of your power-base such a move might actually make sense. It wouldn't be the first time that governments have thought in the short term rather than the long. It doesn't really make all together that much sense but I'm really more interested in making the general point that long term thinking and government seldom go together.

    Where have you been living for the last decade or so? The era of secret agreements never really stopped, it slowed with the fall of the Soviet Union and now with American power at its lowest since 1990 there's every reason to play against it. Not in this way of course but there's no reason to suspect that the world got honorable all of a sudden. Actually it has every reason not to be pre-1990 you had a choice between two powers... now you have a choice between more than that and of every ideological shade you can poke a stick at!
     
  12. Princeps

    Princeps More bombs than God

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    Yeah, because those dirty Russians don't know what's good for them.

    Again, a war between Iran and the US, a real war, would lead to the immediate destruction of the Iranian regime. It is ESPECIALLY the regime that would be targetted. Therefore, the Iranian leadership wouldn't go to war.
     
  13. aronnax

    aronnax Let your spirit be free

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    Oh forgive me, as long as there are politicians, there will be underhanded tricks, subtle usurping, backstabbing and the general wish that their opponents fall in a thick slug of mud. When I say the end of secret agreements, I should make it clearly. What I mean is that no government now ever negotiates with other nations to partition off a third party secretly and secret plans to instigate war between third parties. The world never got honourable. Just less of a scumbag. Germany and France don't have vague wet dreams of conquering each other anymore. Italy no longer dreams to recreate the Roman Empire. Russia, at the very least, should not still think about starting proxy wars.
     
  14. Camikaze

    Camikaze Administrator Administrator

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    The article doesn't mention the actual name, other than labelling it as Russia's reserve fund. I assume it's the Stabilization Fund.

    They want a short term solution, sure, as every nation in the world does, but they would also be interested in a long-term solution, and more likely than not a short term solution that would be compatible with this short term goal.
    Yeah, so I guess that in the short to medium term it would probably benefit Russia. But I'm not so cynical as to believe that Russia would ferment a large-scale war in order to gain this benefit.
    Sure, they would want a short term solution, but they would want a short term solution that would be compatible with long term prosperity, which is their eventual goal. I doubt that a war between the West and Iran would improve Russia's long-term sustainability, or provide a lasting benefit, even given that it would produce an immediate surge in the price of oil.
     
  15. Winner

    Winner Diverse in Unity

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    What risks? There is absolutely no direct connection which could implicate Russia in this, they maintain plausible deniability. They're just "steering" Iran in the right direction. As I said, it wouldn't be the first time Russia did something like this.

    Eh, you're missed the point, which is that Iran's refusal to stop the nuclear program will force Israel or the US to strike first. Iran will then retaliate. It wouldn't be an all out conflict, more likely it would be a low-level conflict consisting of airstrikes, missile strikes, attacks on ships, mine laying, coastal raids etc. Even if Iran stayed completely idle after the attack, Russia would still achieve its goals - the tensions would rise and drive oil prices high, thus damaging Western economic recovery and increasing Russia's revenues from its oil exports (and the Russian influence in Iran would further increase, as the Iranian regime would surely want to buy more weapons - which would mean more money and more geopolitical clout for Moscow, a win-win situation).

    Again, they are not trying to convince Iran to attack first, they just want it to stay pig-headed and opposed to Western attempts to limit it's nuclear program. You misread my post, obviously.

    Not at all. Russia doesn't care about the Middle East any more than the West.

    Russian foreign policy is opportunistic, as I explained. When an opportunity appears to gain a lot at little risk, the Russians will take it.

    This war would boost Russia's economy, relative strength, global influence and prestige - why the heck should the Russians try to avoid it and press Iran into accepting Western demands? That would be a disaster and a total U-turn in its foreign policy.

    Russia is probably the only country in the world about which you can safely say that it's foreign policy is totally devoid of any idealism. Russian diplomacy is cunning, cynical and totally merciless. Now it's celebrating a victory over the US in Central Europe, which leads me to believe it will be emboldened enough to push elsewhere. Middle East is the obvious choice, it can both harm the West there and help itself.

    EU politicians maybe, but Russian politicians have no such qualms.
     
  16. RedRalph

    RedRalph Deity

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    Hmm.... Russia is very much interested in keeping Iran and the States apart, but I don't think they actually want a war. I would imagine Iran was probably dismayed at Obama's climbdown during the week, anything that keep Russia and the USA at odds is in Iran's interest. The USA is also interested in keeping Iran and Russia apart. There's a threeway going on here. I'll comment more and more coherently later.
     
  17. aronnax

    aronnax Let your spirit be free

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    I'm not saying that Russia would push Iran to accept Western Demands. But not to the other end which is to spark war.

    Now.. Now. You haven't given USA its credit among others. I cannot imagine the Krelim working out such a selfish dance...

    *thinks about Georgia and South Ossetia

    You might have a point.

    Still. I can see Russia wanting it to happen, taking advantage of it but not instigating it. Pushing for a little tension, Yes. War? Unlikely. In fact, war might just backfire and Russia might shoot itself in the foot.
     
  18. Gelion

    Gelion Captain

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    In your view who provoked and who started a war on 8.08.08?
     
  19. aronnax

    aronnax Let your spirit be free

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    China!

    In all seriousness, Georgia.

    But Russia took deep and significant political advantages from the affair, which proves that there are ruthless in some sense when it comes to an advantageous position. But they certainly didn't start the war. That at least shows me that they stand on a slightly less muddy "moral" ground.
     
  20. Winner

    Winner Diverse in Unity

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    Before you do, I have another article for you to read:

    Since ultra-tough sanctions are the only thing except military force which could possibly make Iran reconsider its plans, it really really seems that Russia is keen on shutting the only window of opportunity to defuse this crisis peacefully.

    My personal bet is that by emboldening Iran, they hope to force Israelis to strike. Israel has made it clear it can't allow nuclear Iran and the US has also staked too much of its prestige on stopping Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

    It's actually quite clever and positively devious strategy. I'd be proud of myself if I was the leader of Russia :)
     

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