Vlad isn’t directly quoted saying that in the Asia Times’ article. Here’s how it reads.
The barely reported highlight of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Tehran for the Caspian Sea summit last week was a key face-to-face meeting with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
A high-level diplomatic source in Tehran tells Asia Times Online that essentially Putin and the Supreme Leader have agreed on a plan to nullify the George W Bush administration’s relentless drive towards launching a preemptive attack, perhaps a tactical nuclear strike, against Iran. An American attack on Iran will be viewed by Moscow as an attack on Russia.
Again, no quote, but if that’s Putin’s policy then, needless to say, it complicates and circumscribes US options quite a bit. It turns a pre-emptive strike that we could probably conduct without any casualties on our side into a tripwire for a very serious war. Which is one reason that I’m leaning toward thinking that it’s not actually Putin’s policy. It may be what he told the Iranians, I don’t doubt that very much, but if the B2s actually struck Iranian reactors, it’s hard to imagine Putin actually going to war with us over it. Though I concede that it’s not impossible to imagine that. That’s the whole point of the threat, to keep us off balance.
Putin seems to be playing a double game with respect to Iran, positioning Russia to be somewhat closer to Iran than the US but not yet an open enemy of the US. He has also shown some signs of dragging his feet on actually delivering hardware to the Iranians. But he also has also denied that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons at all and announced a kind of Caspian Sea version of the Monroe Doctrine aimed very obviously at keeping US influence and maneuvers in the region to a minimum. He’s clearly using the situation to bring the Kremlin’s influence back to its old Soviet glory days, at the expense of the safety of the world.
The article goes on to discuss some of the politics in the background that are influencing who does and says what regarding Iran’s nuclear policy and negotiations. Allah covered quite a bit of that yesterday in this post. Suffice it to say that the ground is shifting a bit in Tehran, or at least appears to be.