Obama vs. Putin – The Games Intensify!

I usually don’t write about the same subject two weeks in a row, but events surrounding the US/Syria/Russia triangle in the last week have been fascinating to say the least, including  some really surprising news out of Russia today.

Following the G-20 summit last weekend, where Obama and Putin reportedly spoke privately for 20 minutes, Russia offered to influence Syria to give up its chemical weapons. Syria’s President al Assad quickly agreed in principle on Monday of this week.

Putin would very much like to be the savior in this US/Syria standoff. And Obama needed a way out because public disapproval of an attack on Syria was growing by the day, to the point that it was very unlikely that the attack would win approval in Congress. By late Monday, Obama admitted that Russia’s offer to reign-in Syria and deliver its chemical weapons was indeed a consideration.

But there is this little problem. How can the Obama administration know for certain if Putin and al Assad will actually follow through on this purported plan to place Syria’s chemical weapons under international control where they can be destroyed – or if this is just a ruse to buy more time before the US attacks Syria? Only time will tell.


Then, surprise, surprise – on Tuesday Russia let it be known that it would only move forward if the US agreed not to attack Syria, period. That could potentially be a deal-killer since the US would not want to give up any right to punish Syria (or any bad actor) in the future. It remains to be seen how this snag is resolved.

But the real kicker came yesterday (Wednesday) when Putin really landed a blow on Obama and the US. Russia announced it has agreed to supply Iran with advancedS-300 air defense missile systems, as well as build a second reactor at the Bushehr nuclear plant inside Iran. Obama is reportedly livid!

Putin will reportedly renew an old offer to supply Iran with five of the sophisticated ground-to-air missile defense systems at a meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rowhani on Friday. Russia initially signed a contract to deliver five of the advanced missile defense systems to Iran in 2007.

However, in 2010, Russian President Medvedev canceled the contract under intense pressure from the US and Israel. Now, it appears, Putin plans to resurrect that contract and supply Iran with even more advanced missile defense systems called the S-300VM Antey-2500, which can take out incoming missiles and aircraft.

If Russia actually goes through with this, and the defense systems are put in place, the implications for Israel are ominous to say the least. Iran would be able to continue its quest to produce nuclear weapons – with Russia’s blessing – and Israel would not be able to attack Iran’s production facilities (short of going nuclear). Obviously, this is a grave concern for Israel and the West.

As noted above, Putin is also ready to sign a deal with Iran on building a second reactor for the Bushehr nuclear plant. It was Russia that built the Bushehr plant which is Iran’s only functioning nuclear power station, despite protests from Israel and the United States.

Putin is set to meet with Iran’s President Rowhani at a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation to be held in Kyrgyzstan on Friday.

The news of Putin’s plan to supply Iran with missile defense systems and build a second nuclear reactor there only hit the American media very early this morning. I have not been able to find any official reaction from the Obama administration, but you have to know that they are outraged at this aggressive, in-your-face move by Putin.

I’m sure we’ll hear lots of reaction in the next 24 hours.

Posted 09-17-2013 4:59 PM by Gary D. Halbert
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