Sunday, March 21, 2010

Window on Eurasia: Putin Wants Israeli Attack on Iran Because That Would Send Oil Prices Up, Latynina Says

Paul Goble

Vienna, March 21 – “There is nothing Vladimir [Putin] would like more than for Israel to strike Iran,” Moscow journalist Yuliya Latynina said yesterday, “because they the price of oil would go up” and Russia, which is dependent on the profits from petroleum exports, would be a major beneficiary.
Speaking last night Moscow time on her “Access Code” program on Ekho Moskvy, the outspoken commentator offered this as an explanation for what Putin says that “Russia will help Iran launch the Bushehr Atomic Energy Station,” a statement that appeared “strange” to some given US efforts to enlist Russia’s help (
The reasons for this are clear, Latynina suggested. “The Americans consider that for them Russia is not an important priority because Russia is not an outlaw country.” Thus, from their perspective, “Russia in fact is only pretending” to oppose the West on this, because in the US view, “it is impossible to conduct an aggressive policy while having money in Western banks.”
In brief, Latynina said, the Americans have concluded that Russians “won’t launch rockets against places where [they] have villas and bank accounts.” But, she continued, “Iran is something else. Iran is serious,” and that is why the US “is trying all the time to obtain from Putin support for sanctions.”
So far, the US had been unsuccessful, and Latynina offered the following “hypothesis” as to why that is so: “there is nothing that Vladimir Vladimirovich would like more than for Israel to strike Iran.” Such strikes would send the price of oil upwards, and that would at least in the short term benefit Russia.
Such a hypothesis, she continued, would be consistent with the general pattern of Russia’s general approach in international affairs at present, an approach “which consists of creating situations but not resolving them. Iran is the latest example of the creation of a situation.”
Latynina added that she “strongly suspects that there is only one person in the world who wants the Israelis to hit Iran a great deal more” than the Russian prime minister. “That individual is Iranian President Ahmadinejad,” a figure who beyond any doubt would use any such attacks as a pretext for moving against his opponents and thus solidifying his control.
Whether or not the outspoken Moscow journalist is correct in her hypothesis or not, Latynina calls attention to three important aspects of the current international system that many, especially in the United States, are reluctant to acknowledge because it would call into question their approach.
First, as Latynina’s remarks suggest, the world does not divide simply between a few “outlaws” like Iran and the rest of the international community which wants nothing more than to agree and force the outsiders to join the rest of the world in harmony and accord. Instead, the countries of the world are and will remain deeply divided because of different interests.
Second, one of the biggest of these divisions now is between energy exporters and energy importers. Russia is one of the former and would benefit at least in the short term from a rise in energy prices, especially since it has been suffering from their fall. Western countries and Japan, in contrast, generally are energy importers and would suffer if prices shot up.
And third – and this point is one that the US seems particularly unwilling to recognize at present – the current Russian government is quite prepared to take steps that create crises for others, confident or at least hopeful that it may gain as a result either directly or by putting its competitors like the US in an awkward or uncomfortable position.

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