In the last days of 2007, Moscow made several purposeful steps that barely registered in the West, where the Christmas break was already well underway.
What prompted Russia to take these pro-active but risky steps in the Iranian game was the new U.S. National Intelligence Estimate that established that Tehran had discontinued its nuclear weapons program.
Worried about the fragility of his pseudo-democratic but far from monolithic system of power, Putin increasingly sees the need to juxtapose Russia against the “unfriendly” and even “hostile” West that still remains the pivot of economic relations and political networking. Noting the rise of international tensions in his forecast for 2008, Lavrov insisted that Russia would not be dragged into any confrontation (RIA-Novosti, December 29). Adding fuel to the smoldering conflict around Iran hardly fits into this course of caution, but it is the blind drive to confront the West in order to secure the crumbling domestic stability that shapes up as the main threat to Russia’s security in the uncertain period of Putin-Medvedev duumvirate.