'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Putin Draws a Line in the Sand? 

From today's New York Times:

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia told a summit meeting of five Caspian Sea nations in Iran today that any use of military force in the region was unacceptable and in a declaration the countries agreed that none of them would allow their territories to be used as a base for launching military strikes against any of the others.

Mr. Putin’s comments and the declaration come at a time when France and the United States have refused to rule out military action to halt Iran’s nuclear energy program, which they believe masks a desire to develop nuclear weapons. Iran says its program is solely for peaceful purposes.

Asked this morning about Mr. Putin’s remarks, Tony Fratto, the deputy White House press secretary, said simply, “That sounds like a good policy.”

Mr. Putin arrived in Tehran today for meetings with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran and leaders from three other nearby Caspian Sea nations that have rich oil and gas resources, promising to use diplomacy to try to resolve the international debate over Iran’s nuclear program.

He was the first Kremlin leader to travel to Iran since 1943, when Stalin attended a wartime summit meeting with Churchill and Roosevelt. His statements, which were consistent with his past positions cautioning against military action against Iran, were nonetheless stark in their setting and firmly emphasized his differences with the United States over the extent of Iran’s threat and the means to counter it.

“Not only should we reject the use of force, but also the mention of force as a possibility,” Mr. Putin said. “This is very important. We must not submit to other states in the case of aggression or some other kind of military action directed against one of the Caspian countries.”

Would the Russians and the Chinese covertly ship weapons to the Iranians in the event of a conflict with the US? One wonders.

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