I think that Rob Coalson at RFE/RL makes some good points here. The missile shield was a non-functional fiasco, but the diplomatic missteps which have so severely damaged relations with Eastern Europe are certainly not worth the expected help the Obama administration thinks it is going to get on Iran from the Kremlin. Brace yourselves for dramatic underwhelmment.
I have long been skeptical of the Kremlin’s interest in cooperating with the United States on Iran and should confess that I remain so. Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote an analysis arguing that Moscow’s interest in weakening the United States and destroying the so-called unipolar world order trumped its interest in resolving the Iran dispute. The Kremlin views Iran’s nuclear program as the West’s problem:
Clearly, it is not in Moscow’s interest to have a nuclear-armed Iran on its southern border with the capability of striking targets within Russia. However, this danger is remote — it is hard to imagine a scenario in which Iran would risk total annihilation by destroying, say, Russia’s Black Sea Fleet or leveling Volgograd with a nuclear strike. And that remote danger is made even more unlikely by repeated U.S. and Israeli declarations that a nuclear-armed Iran is “unacceptable.” The refusal of the United States to pull the military option off the table means the worst-case scenario for Moscow, in the event talks fail, is not a mushroom cloud over Kuban but seeing Washington become bogged down in yet another military involvement with the inevitable further sapping of its strength and prestige. The facts that oil prices would also likely skyrocket under such a scenario and that Moscow would emerge as a “reliable energy partner” are probably also not causing Kremlin strategists to lose any sleep.