As tensions in the Persian Gulf have been mounting over the last several weeks, the activities of major international players in the region have also intensified.

Russia has intensified its own diplomatic and other activities so as not be excluded from whatever might transpire in the region in the coming months.

Russia has been subtly promoting itself as an intermediary between Iran and some of the Arab Gulf states. Russian activities in the Persian Gulf have not been limited to diplomacy and making reasonable-sounding proposals for collective security.

Some Arab news sites recently have opined that Vladimir Putin would be the ideal mediator between Iran and its Arab neighbors, including Saudi Arabia, since he has good relations with all of them.

Parallel with diplomacy, Moscow has taken more concrete measures to insert itself into Persian Gulf affairs and to carve out a place for itself in the region and a role in future decisions regarding regional security together with other great powers, notably the USA and the European Union.

In an article in Oil Price.com, Simon Watkins claimed that Iran has agreed to provide basing rights for Russia at its ports of Chabahar and Bandar Bushehr.

He also claimed that Moscow intends to position sophisticated weaponry at these ports. Other reports have claimed that Moscow wants to establish a submarine base in Iran’s Chabahar.

Should these reports prove to be right, it would mean that Vladimir Putin has finally realized Peter the Great’s dream of reaching the warm waters of the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean.

Iran saw that the introduction of the Russian military into Syria contributed considerably to US unwillingness to launch a full-scale military operation against Bashar al-Assad.

The situation in the Persian Gulf is quite different, and it is unlikely that Russia would be willing to come to Iran’s defense should there be a confrontation with the United States.

Nevertheless, a more pronounced Russian naval presence in the region could change somewhat U.S. calculations about the potential risks of war with Iran.

After the assassination of top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, President Donald Trump threatened Iran on Twitter, saying the United States has pinpointed 52 Iranian sites — including cultural sites — if the nation retaliates.

Trump tweeted that the 52 targets the US military has identified, represent the 52 American citizens held in Iran for more than a year during the hostage crisis.

An Iranian military commander had threatened counter-strikes against the United States, saying Iran had identified 35 potential targets within striking distance.

Business Insider / ABC Flash Point News 2020.

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