Russia has been preparing for the prospect of an Israeli or U.S. air strike on Iran in 2012. Officials said the Kremlin has ordered the military to draft options for a Russian response to any foreign attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
They said the Defense Ministry has established a facility to monitor Teheran, an ally and trading partner of Moscow. “Iran, of course, is a sore spot,” Russian Chief of Staff Gen. Nikolai Makarov said. Makarov said Iran has become the leading focus of the Kremlin. He said the Defense Ministry has established a center to closely monitor Iran and the rest of the Middle East.
Makarov said international pressure on Iran has been growing and could be followed by military action. He said the current sanctions on Teheran could lead to a confrontation in mid-2012. “Some kind of decision should be taken, probably closer to summer,” Makarov said on Feb. 14.
In 2011, Russia completed a $1 billion project to launch Iran’s first nuclear energy reactor. At the same time, the Kremlin, which cited United Nations sanctions, returned about $350 million in a downpayment for the
S-300PMU1 air defense system for Teheran.
“We used to have a general on duty at each main command,” Makarov said. “Now, we have created a situation center that receives all the necessary information in real-time.”
The United States has also increased monitoring of Israel and Iran out of concern for a regional war in 2012. On Feb. 14, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told the Senate Armed Services Committee that he could not determine whether Israel has decided to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities this spring.