Premature Celebration on Russia-Iran Missile Deal Postponement

How many times have we heard the Russian government say that the delivery of S-300 anti-aircraft missiles would be canceled or delayed, before then again moving ahead?  We’ve lost count, and there’s not reason to think that the issue is final this time.  From Josh Rogin blogging at Foreign Policy’s The Cable:

“Let’s wait a bit before we pop open the champagne,” said David Kramer, who served as assistant secretary of state for democracy and human rights during the Bush administration. He gave credit to the Obama administration for getting the Russians to renege on the S-300 sale, but pointed out that Moscow still cooperates with Iran on the Bushehr nuclear reactor, may allow Russian company Lukoil to undermine U.S. energy sanctions, and may even sign on to a multilateral criticism of U.S. and EU sanctions on Iran being discussed by Brazil, India, and China.

Kramer also wrote anop-ed in the WashingtonPost heavily criticizing McFaul and Burns for not coming out more stronglyin public on behalf of Russian activist LevPonomaryov, who was arrested just before they were due to meet with him andother human rights activists in Russia earlier this month.

“Alas, speaking the truth about Russia isn’t likelyto happen as long as the Obama administration spins its ‘reset’ policy withRussia as one of its major foreign policy successes. Worse, administrationofficials have on numerous occasions rejected the notion of ‘linkage’ betweenhuman rights problems and the U.S.-Russia relationship. Such attitudes signalto Russian officials that there are no consequences for behavior,” Kramerwrote.

The senior administration official responded toKramer’s article directly and told The Cablethat he disputed the contention that the Obama administration is silent onhuman rights violations in Russia.

“We are not doing that game. We are not being silenton issues of democracy and human rights in order to get their agreement on the S-300.The evidence for that is apparent. We do not mince our words. We put out dozensof statements on Russian human rights practices,” the official said. “It’s whatwe call dual-track engagement.”