Just one month after completing delivery of an order of TOR-M1 missile systems to Iran, reports are surfacing today that Venezuela is also currently negotiating with Rosoboronexport for an order of 10-12 of the same type of missiles. Russia protests that sanctions from the United States against arms exporters (for doing business with Iran) are unlawful, arguing that “Armaments we export are intended exclusively for defense. This applies to Iran. These are not offensive weapons, and they neither pose any threat to neighbors nor can they destabilize the situation in the region.” However, it should be noted that Russia is certainly not alone in its continuing business relations with Iran, and that perhaps U.S. policymakers should begin looking for alternative points of leverage to produce the desired outcome in the region. Of course all of this tension must also be viewed in light of the Americans’ efforts to set up a missile defense system in Central Europe, much to the expressed irritation of Russia. Today in the New York Post, Peter Brookes of Heritige Foundation further stokes the coals:
The point here is that Moscow wants it both ways. Russia is now the world’s biggest arms merchant to the developing world. In some cases, these sales seriously undermine American interests and security – and threaten U.S forces. Yet Russia wants us to forgo deploying a defensive missile system that will protect us and our allies from two countries – Iran and North Korea – Russia had a hand in arming? That’s downright outrageous. The United States and Russia can both benefit from a cooperative relationship. Neither capital wants a deeper freeze in already chilly ties. But Moscow must understand its actions aren’t without perceived – or real – consequences for Russian security, too.
There seems to be little doubt that high oil prices and Russia’s policies of energy imperialism are creating some shifts in the perceptions of balance of power – the boundaries of which are currently being explored here.