So it’s now been reported that the Russian ship the ‘Arctic Sea’ which was mysteriously a victim of piracy in July was actually now not only holding logs for Malta which in itself is odd but also Russian S-300 surface-to-air missiles bound for Iran. The speed and drama of the Russian successful search and rescue mission struck me as remarkable. Officially elements of the Russian mafia have been blamed for the smuggling effort. But these missiles couldn’t have been stolen, transported and loaded without some covert sanction.
The blown cover explains the speed of Russian military intervention. Of course it could be argued the military wanted to hide its embarrassment at its insecure installations. That is true. But on a subtler level, while smuggling arms to Iran is an century-old Russia habit, getting caught doing is is far more damaging international especially in relation to Israel whose population is over 30% ethnic Russian. Those sort of complications are part of what’s so deep, dirty and fascinating about international politics.