TEHRAN – Professor Nader Entessar that “there are limits to what the West can do” against Russia.
“The West knows well that repeating the ‘all options are on the table’ mantra doesn't work when dealing with Russia,” Entessar said in an interview with the Mehr News Agency.
Entessar who teaches at South Alabama University also says the West reneged on its promise not to expand its sphere of influence in the former Soviet republics after the Soviet empire broke down.
This is the text of the interview:
Q: What will be the consequences of the annexation of Crimea to Russia?
A: After the downfall of the Soviet Union, the West made a pledge to the
Russian leader not to take steps to encircle Russia. That pledge was not
honored by the West with the expansion of NATO to many countries in the
former Soviet bloc. Putin and his administration must have come to a
decision that Russia would not acquiesce to any further expansion of the
West and NATO into areas that have traditionally been considered by Moscow as its sphere of influence. For Putin, Ukraine became the proverbial "red line." When the West crossed that red line, Putin took the drastic measures that we have witnessed in the past weeks to safeguard Russia's national interests and its security.
Q: What will be the possible results of tensions between the West and Russia? Some believe that imposing sanctions are the first step taken
by West and argue that more sanctions will be introduced in the future and consequently more tensions will arise?
A: Imposing sanctions are the "safest" measures that the West can take at this time. There are no military options. In other words, the West knows well that repeating the "all options are on the table" mantra doesn't work when dealing with Russia. Most likely, further sanctions will be considered in the near future, thus leading to the deterioration of relations between Russia and the West. However, there are limits to what the West can do. Sanctions are always a two-way street, and they tend to eventually affect both sides of the equation.
Q: Energy security is vital for Europe. However, Europe is dependent on Russia for its gas. In the light of such a situation is it possible to imagine that the EU would look to Iran, which has the largest gas reserves in the world, as an alternative?
A: It is possible that EU may look at Iran as a potential source of natural gas sometime in the future. However, with the current variety of sanctions that are in place against Iran, it does not appear very likely that Iranian natural gas will be considered as an alternative to Russia's energy exports to Europe. The United States will also have a major stake in this affair as it seeks to become the premier natural gas exporter to the EU.
Q: If such a thing happens can it influence Russia’s stance toward the Iranian nuclear issue?
A: Throughout the past decade, Russia has astutely used its "Iran card" to increase its leverage with both Tehran and Washington. Obviously, if
Russia loses its energy leverage, it will have to take a more cooperative
stance towards Tehran, when it comes to the nuclear Iran's nuclear case.
However, as I mentioned before, this scenario is not a likely one in the immediate future.
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