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What's behind Russia's involvement in Syria and Iran? National interests.

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"The CIA and other US officials admit they now have no information about the Iranian leadership taking the political decision to produce nuclear weapons," Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Moscow's Kommersant FM radio, according to Agence-France Presse. "But I am almost certain that such a decision will surely be taken after [any] strikes on Iran."

The pressure on Iran is “forcing a lot of Third World countries to pause and realize that if you have a nuclear bomb, no one will really bother you,” Mr. Lavrov said. "You might get some light sanctions, but people will always coddle you, they will court you and try to convince you of things."

It should come as a surprise to no one that Moscow wants a place at the bargaining table, particularly in countries where it has invested a great deal of capital, political and the other kind, in supporting regimes that are supportive of Russian interests. This is what nations do.

But when it comes to the twin crises in Syria and Iran, Russia’s determined efforts to stand up for Damascus and Tehran are perceived by the West as especially destabilizing and dangerous. For one thing, several of Syria’s neighbors, including Turkey, have hinted they would be willing to take their military into Syria to create a humanitarian corridor to protect refugees within Syrian territory and stanch the flow of refugees into Turkey. But that move could be seen as provocative and create other political problems. Israel, similarly, has hinted that it has a few bombs that were just made to be dropped on Iranian nuclear facilities, which Iran insists are purely for civilian energy production.

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