When the Geo-Politics of Syria or Iran Intervention Get Real

As I mentioned in Top of the Morning, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev issued a stern warning against foreign military intervention in Syria or Iran.

“Hasty military operations in foreign states usually bring radicals to power,” Medvedev, president for four years until Vladimir Putin’s inauguration on May 7, told a conference in St. Petersburg in remarks posted on the government’s website.

“At some point such actions which undermine state sovereignty may lead to a full-scale regional war, even, although I do not want to frighten anyone, with the use of nuclear weapons,” Medvedev said. “Everyone should bear this in mind.”

Last month, I visited Georgia and met with government officials in Tblisi. For them, Russian geopolitics is a day-to-day worry. Russia currently occupies about 25% of their land.  Several Georgian officials are explicitly worried that their foe, Russia, would use the a western attack on Syria or Iran as a pre-text to occupy even more of Georgia.

Specifically, Georgian officials are deeply concerned that Moscow would respond to western military action against Iran by trying to fortify its military base in Armenia, and use that base as a launching pad to protect Russian interests in Iran.  The quickest way to supply that base is via a landroute that goes through the heart of Georgia. Ergo, several Georgian officials relayed to me their deep concern that a western strike against Iran would give Russia the pre-text it needed to once again invade Georgia.

You may think that this all sounds conspiracy minded. But these fears are very real in Tblisi.

The point is, Medvedev’s words ought to be read as a warning to people here in the USA or its allies causually toss around the idea of invading Syria or bombing Iran. Such actions do not happen in a vacuum, and could have far reaching geopolitical consequences.