In the conditions of the growing international isolation of Russia, generated by the late years of Putin’s rule, the formation of the image of an influential power is becoming increasingly difficult for the Russian regime. This is a natural result of their subversive policies around the world.
Moscow is afraid that the odious regime of the DPRK is already close to reaching an understanding with Washington and is discussing the deal on its nuclear program. There is a growing tension in the club of world outsiders. The American sword of Damocles hangs over the heads of authoritarian leaders, and it seems that now the Iranian mullahs and Russian extremists are in the most uncomfortable position.
With aim to postpone own agony, the Kremlin decided to quickly distance itself from its recent close friend and make the Persians as a scapegoat.
Netanyahu and the bitterness of Victory Day for the Iranians
2018 is not a jubilee in the context of the celebration of the “Victory Day”. The date is 73 years. Thus, there is no significant reason for that, and Russian diplomats did not have to apply titanic efforts to gather a support group on Red Square in order to brighten up the loneliness of the Kremlin dictator, as it was in 2015. For example, there was only one foreign guest – Moldovan President Dodon on a modest parade in Moscow last year, who became closer to Putin than his loyal PM Medvedev.
But the Russian Foreign Ministry encountered a difficulty: the parade practically coincided with the inauguration of the reigning president. In general, there was a need to form a decent support group to hide the grief and longing of Putin in Moscow. As a result, the leaders of the two countries agreed to come to the call from Russia.
First, we are talking about the President of Serbia Alexander Vucic. He is pushed to visit Putin by the need for cheap Russian gas, which will be delivered via the “Turkish Stream”. In Belgrade, however, they are not so loyal to the Russians: they want to join NATO and the EU; they express neutrality after the strike of the tripartite coalition in Syria a month ago.
Secondly, Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in Moscow on a working visit, which is an even more interesting turn. Although to say about some uniqueness of the arrival of Netanyahu, one cannot speak, because this is the 7th visit of the Israeli to Moscow after the beginning of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, and the 10th since the beginning of the civil war in Syria. In a word, Netanyahu’s trip is the step to solve problems in the national interests of Israel.
But it should be also noted an important detail: the leader of the Jewish people came to Putin in a very uncomfortable moment for the international reputation of Russia. As you know, on May 8, US President Donald Trump said that the States would withdraw from the agreement on Tehran’s nuclear program and the US administration is beginning the process of restoring the relevant sanctions against Iran.
“Now, I declare that the United States will withdraw from the agreement on the Iranian nuclear program. In a few moments I will sign a presidential memorandum to begin the process of resuming the US sanctions related to the atom against the Iranian regime”, – Trump said during a speech at the White House.
Trump promised a “higher level” sanction against Iran, and also declared his readiness to impose sanctions against any country that could help Tehran in obtaining nuclear weapons. After that, Israel followed the statement that Jerusalem supports Washington’s decision, especially after the “secret archive” of Tehran, which was extracted by the Mossad, and showed that Iran was deceiving the whole world, claiming that it froze the nuclear program.
Amid of Trump’s decisive anti-Iranian decision, Netanyahu positively assessed the US withdrawal from the agreement on the Iranian nuclear program: “Israel fully supports President Trump’s bold decision to abandon the failed nuclear deal … Our country was against the nuclear deal from the very beginning”.
On May 8, Prime Minister Netanyahu also accused Iran of deploying “very dangerous weapons” in Syria. The politician added that these maneuvers are carried out as part of a campaign to create a threat to the Jewish state. “Iran openly calls for the annihilation, erasure of Israel from the face of the earth every day, and practices unconditional aggression against us. Now, Teheran is trying to place a very dangerous weapon in Syria for a specific purpose – our destruction”, – Netanyahu said.
And right after that, Netanyahu gets on the plane and lands right next to Putin at his annual parade. It is obvious that at that moment the Iranian ayatollahs finally saw the light and already issued secret fatwas in order to stymie the Russian ally. It may be very possible that the units of al-Quds or Hezbollah are preparing to punish the Russians in their zone of reach on Syrian soil.
In turn, the holiday of May 9 is a sad day for the Iranians. This is a constant reminder to the proud Persians about the years spent under the Soviet occupation. Between August 1941 and May 1946, Persia lost its sovereignty and partially entered the Soviet zone of influence.
So, in the midst of World War II, Moscow destroyed Iran’s neutrality and dismembered the country in a few weeks. As modern Iranian historians write – the Soviet Union was preparing the dismemberment of Iran, under the guise of peaceful negotiations before the treacherous invasion of the Persian land.
The image of Russia as a colonizer and aggressor firmly rooted in the Iranian public consciousness. The Iranians are convinced that the Soviet Union pursued expansionist goals, developed “plans for the long-term annexation of the northern regions and actively interfered in the life of these provinces”. This is indicated by projects of local analogues of the “DNR” and “LNR” – the Mekhabad Republic and the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan.
It is worth remembering one more thing: Victory Day is differently understood in Tehran than in Moscow … The local theocratic regime also celebrates its similar holiday. The Iranians have other spiritual ties – every year on February 11, or 22 Bahman on the Iranian calendar, the anniversary of the victory of the Islamic revolution is celebrated.
This is absolutely anti-Russian holiday, because its sources are the events of the 1979 Islamic revolution, when the spiritual power of the Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was established. The latter was an ardent enemy of the “empire of soviets,” and declared that he was not afraid of the USSR as a superpower, and even suggested to accept Islam to the last Soviet secretary general.
In his will he stated the following: “My testament to all Muslims and the deprives of the world is that you should not sit idle and wait until the rulers of your countries and foreign states will give you a freedom and independence as a gift …”. For these calls, the text of “Khomeini’s Testament” was banned in Russia in 2008 and is called an extremist document. As you know, the Iranians were one of the main enemies of the Soviet army in Afghanistan. After all, this long-suffering republic had to fulfill the role of an important springboard for the export of the Islamic revolution to the Soviet republics of Central Asia.
Now, it is another reason in Tehran for bitterness and sobering from of their Russian “brothers”. Again, on a painful day for them, May 9, Moscow had a meeting at the highest with their worst enemy – Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. It seems that Kremlin in a fire order is trying to rebuild relation with Israel and to push Tehran under attack.
Brown-and-black St. George’s ribbon in exchange for real freedom of action
The May trip of Netanyahu to Moscow, his demonstrative closeness to Putin in the form of wearing a St. George ribbon and participation in the action “Immortal Regiment” with a poster on which there was a Lithuanian Jew, Hero of the Soviet Union and the honorary Colonel of the IDF Wolfas Vilenskis, are all elements of a well thought-out work plan of Israelis.
As you know, Netanyahu is known for his determination, pragmatism and harsh lobbying of Israeli interests. Now his task was to ensure Moscow’s non-interference in the course of actions that Jerusalem implements in Syria. Of course, first of all, we are talking about Israel’s measures to weaken the positions of the Iranians, the pro-Iranian forces and the Assad regime on the territories adjacent to its borders. Netanyahu does not hide this at all, as he said at a meeting with Putin.
Here is what he said about Iran’s activities in the Middle East: “We do not forget, for a moment, a very important lesson in history: when a murderous ideology appears, it is necessary to rebuff it in time. It’s hard to believe, but 73 years after the Holocaust, in the Middle East we have a country called Iran that openly calls for the destruction of the State of Israel. But there is a difference between what was then and what is today: today we have our own country”.
The Prime Minister of Israel stated that it is important for him to discuss with the Russians the opportunity, how to act together correctly in the region and how to jointly, reasonably and responsibly remove threats in the Middle East. In other words, the task number one for him is to ensure Moscow’s non-interference in Israeli measures to weaken the Iranian threat in all its manifestations.
It seems that for the adventures with a ribbon and laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Netanyahu got tangible preferences.
The main thing is that he got the neutrality of Russian troops in Syria from Russians, while the Air Force and artillery of the IDF will finish off the Iranians and their allies.
This is what was said in the communiqué following the visit: “… Israel has no objections to the settlement in Syria, but we are resolutely against the fact that under this agreement, Iran and its puppets have retained a military presence in Syria. I think that these questions were clarified in the best way. Based on the experience of my communication with President Putin, it is important not only to prevent misunderstandings, but ultimately this is reflected in the place of events”. In short, Russia will not interfere to Israel’s actions in Syria.
Just last month, the Russian authorities condemned the rocket attacks on Syrian troops in the Homs province. Nevertheless, on the night of 9 May, Israel again shelled the positions of Bashar al-Assad’s forces in the area of al-Kiswa to the south of Damascus.
“Statements made in the past by the Russian side suggested limiting our freedom of action in Syria, and also harmed our interests. But this did not happen, and I see no reason to assume that this time something will be different”, – Netanyahu says happily. It turns out that Israel is still ready to endure the Assad regime, but only if it will lose the support of the Iranians, and will be weakened as much as possible.
And then Netanyahu also received a valuable gift from Putin: after his visit, Moscow refused to supply the S-300 AD systems to Syria. For Netanyahu, this was also the driving motive for coming to Victory Day. Israel has repeatedly attempted to persuade Moscow not to supply the Syrian S-300, as it fears that this will limit the ability of the Israeli Air Force to resist the supply of weapons to the Lebanese-backed Hezbollah. Israel has already dealt dozens of air strikes against alleged convoys with cargo.
As a result of the Moscow visit, Israel achieved a positive result for itself. On May 11, it became known that Russia is not negotiating with the Syrian government on the supply of modern S-300 air defense systems to this country. This was stated by Vladimir Putin’s aide on military-technical cooperation Vladimir Kozhin in an interview with the Izvestia newspaper.
Israel persistently insisted that Moscow not supply missiles to Syria. Russia after the strikes of the Western coalition on Syria in April hinted that it would supply weapons to Assad, despite Israel’s objections. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the strikes had removed from Russia a moral obligation not to supply missiles, and Kommersant newspaper daily quoted unnamed military sources claiming that S-300 supplies could begin in the near future.
But all of this turned out to be the empty promises: “No deliveries of modern systems have been made, so far”, – Vladimir Kozhin told Izvestia. The aid of Vladimir Putin noted that the Syrian armed forces have “all that they need …”.
Immediately after that, a spokesman of Putin Peskov made a statement that the refusal to supply the S-300 systems to Syria is not related to the visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Moscow. The representative of the Kremlin also reminded that Moscow had never announced such deliveries. This step of the Kremlin can be called a severe blow to the Iranian positions in Syria in the light of the further steps of the Israeli side.
Moscow’s silence over the bleeding ally
Literally right after returning from Moscow, Netanyahu had to take tough measures to stop the Iranian aggression against his country. What is important, Israel was able to convince the Russians of their inevitability.
In the midnight by Kiev time on May 10, the press service of the Israeli army reported that “the Iranian forces of Al-Quds in Syria released about 20 missiles on the positions of Israeli troops in the Golan Heights”. Part of the missiles was intercepted by the air defense system “Iron Dome”. According to the spokesman of the Israeli Defense Army, Jonathan Konricus, “the damage level is very low as a result of the missile strike”. But according to their assessments, “the army considers this incident as extremely serious, and continues to support readiness for a wide range of possible scenarios”.
After that, the Israeli Air Force attacked the Syrian areas of Tell el-Ahmar, Tell el-Kbaa and Kars-en-Nakl (province of El Quneitra, 40 km from Damascus) and destroyed more than 50 targets of the forces of the Iranian Quds on Syrian territory. Among them, the infrastructure for launching missiles, air defense systems and a military base.
According to the Israeli media, this was the largest retaliatory missile strike since 1974. According to the Russian military department, 28 F-15 and F-16 aircraft were used in the Israeli Air Force missile and air strikes, which fired around 60 air-to-surface missiles in various regions of Syria.
Also, more than 10 tactical ground-to-surface missiles were fired from Israel. As part of a large-scale attack, Iran’s positions in Syria, which are under control of the forces of Al-Quds, came under attack: Al-Quds headquarters, Al-Quds military and logistics complex, the Iranian military camp north of Damascus, the weapons depot forces of Al-Quds at the international airport of Damascus, systems and installations associated with Al-Quds forces, military posts and observation posts in the buffer zone. In addition, there were strikes on the Iranian launcher, from which rockets were fired into Israel. The loss of Iranian Special Forces from Al-Quds reached 8 people. In total, 15 military men from among the supporters of Assad were killed.
Among the targets destroyed by the Israelis was also the invulnerable anti-aircraft missile and cannon system “Pantsir-S1” delivered by the Russians to Syria. Russians say that this could happen for two reasons: the complex was either turned off, or it lacked ammunition. Otherwise, the complex would knock down the rocket.
Although Russian experts recognize that the Israeli aviation in the region has a serious advantage, planes can fly for a very long time along the border, exhausting the crews of anti-aircraft systems. And then, having seized the moment, they could to strike it. It means no comments.
The USA approves of Israel’s actions against the growing Iranian pressure. Deputy White House spokesman Raj Shah said: “As for Israel’s actions, the USA strongly supports Israel’s right to self-defense. Iran’s actions seem to demonstrate that Iran is a player that cannot be relied upon”.
In turn, Moscow is silent and does not comment on what happened, whereas in Tehran, lightings are rushing in all directions. “Israeli air strikes against objects in Syria are a gross violation of the sovereignty of the country”, – Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Kasemi said. He particularly rebuked Moscow, stating that “silence of the world community” in connection with the attack is a “green light” for the continuation of such measures.
On 11 May, Tehran launched new threats against the Israeli authorities in the event of their further “reckless behavior.” A member of the Council of Experts of Iran and the rector of the Friday prayer in Tehran, Ahmad Khatami threatened to destroy the largest cities in Israel – Tel Aviv and Haifa. According to him, Iran can “wipe them off the ground” even without nuclear weapons, only thanks to the power of its missiles. “We do not deal with a nuclear bomb, but on the contrary, our policy is a deterrent policy, in this direction every day Iran’s missile power is growing so that Israel cannot fall asleep from this force. If he acts foolhardily, we will wipe Tel-Aviv and Haifa off the ground”, – Khatami said.
The silence of the Russians is quite understandable: they are even very happy with the fact that Israel is accomplishing its tasks and weakening the Iranian position. Here Moscow has a number of reasons to betray the Persians.
First, the Russians will strengthen their influence on the Assad regime after its supporters have understood the perniciousness and danger of a further alliance with the Iranians. As it known, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman called on Syrian President Bashar Assad to get rid of his patrons from Iran. “Get rid of the Iranians. Get rid of General Kassem Suleymani and the forces of El Quds. They will not help you, they will only harm you”, -Lieberman said.
Secondly, the increase in tensions in the Middle East, up to a large-scale conflict, is pushing up oil prices. The Kremlin is already rubbing hands at the thought that prices can jump to $ 100 per barrel. The main thing here is that the entire security system in the region has to collapse, and there must be a range of chaos. In general, it is nothing new. Undermining global stability, Moscow has been engaged for many years.
An important catalyst for this process is the revision of the nuclear deal between the West and Iran. In Moscow, they are already to say that it is President Trump, through his measures to exit from the agreement, provokes instability in the Middle East. But here again, it is necessary to return to one very important moment.
As it known, Netanyahu brought to Moscow a part of the Iranian nuclear archive, which was stolen by the Mossad. Probably, among the thousands of files, there were clues also against Russia, which could support Tehran in the process of maintaining a secret nuclear program, hiding it from the IAEA.
This is in the style of the Putin regime, which helped the Assad regime to restore the chemical arsenal after a showdown of its chemical program, which did not prevent the representatives of the Assad regime from using chemical agents to fight against the opposition and their people.
In order to somehow wash away its black reputation this time, Moscow had to go to complete rejection of the Iranians, and give to Israel the freedom of action against them. But, probably, the joy of the Russians will not be long, because traitors are despised even by those with whom they conspired. Having lost even a bad friend such as Iran, Russia will not get new, and will continue to drag on the burden of shameful loneliness on the world arena.
Earlier IR wrote about how Putin “sells friends” or the Afrin Overture against the Kurds.