Russia signed a contract worth about $800 million to deliver S-300s to Iran in 2007. But the U.S. and Israel pushed the Kremlin to drop the deal, expressing concern that Tehran could use the sophisticated air-defense system to protect its nuclear facilities from an attack.

Sonne, Paul.  “Russia Lifts Its Ban on Delivery of S-300 Missiles to Iran: The Kremlin removes ban implemented by Dmitry Medvedev in 2010.”  The Wall Street Journal, April 13, 2015.

BackChannels recalls that in Moscow last November, Mikhail Bogdanov and PFLP representatives discussed S-300 missiles (reference string: “Moscow, PFLP”).  Could this breaking news refer back to that chat?  By its $800 million figure, the contract bandied about seems the same, a perennial niggle for the diplomats involved.

Related from 2010: BBC.  “Kremlin bans sale of S-300 missile systems to Iran.” September 22, 2010.

Kais, Roi.  “Report: Russia to supply Syria with S-300 missiles.”  YNet News, November 30, 2014.

Russo-Iranian expansionism provide certain distractions with utility.  For example, with world (foreign policy) attention on Tehran’s bargaining over its nuclear chips, Tehran’s war-by-proxy Houthis fairly rolled up Aden, Yemen.

Call the technique the “inspiration of inattention.”

Crimea’s adverse conditions aren’t simply limited to economics, however. The region’s inhabitants have faced systematic discrimination since becoming Russian citizens. In particular, Crimea’s Tatar Muslim minority is suffering levels of persecution not seen since the Soviet era. This pressure includes “disappearances, sadistic murders . . . attacks on media, and arrests on trumped-up charges,” according to one informed observer. So pervasive has this discrimination been that, back in February, the United Nations took the unprecedented step of publicly condemning Russia’s treatment of the Crimean Tatars.

Amosah, Leona.  “Remember Crimea?  The Grim Reality of Russian Rule.”  National Review, April 13, 2014.

Should any reader not only overlook but forget why Ukrainians gave Putin’s bulldog Yanukovych the boot in the first place: YanukovychLeaks National Project: A group investigating the documents found in Mezhihirya.

With their oil revenues cut — the reduced pricing behind that helped along by improvements in North American energy independence — the cloaked Mafia States appear to appear in a different kind of media daylight.  Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro, among the highest paid politicians in the world, recently reached for the skirts of absolute executive authority — the dictator’s most comforting tool: rule by decree, no questions entertained for long, if at all — and wailed “mad, evil, heinous and shameful” over what the Yankees were doing (nothing out of the ordinary) to his boys.

Related: Kurmanaev, Anatoly.  “Venezuela Squanders Its Oil Wealth.”  Bloomberg Business, February 17, 2015; Rosati, Andrew.  “Venezuela Inflation Seen Pushing 200% as Rationing Deepens.”  Bloomberg Business, April 10, 2015.

After so many years of sanctions, one would expect the suffering of Iran to have suffered more deeply by now, and that they have done, not that the regime much cares.  Today’s Breitbart contains some analysis of how released cash flow may work — Nazarian, Adelle.  “Why were Iranians celebrating on the streets of Tehran last week?”  Breitbart, April 13, 2015.

What con does not expect to get his marks “looking the other way”?

(Reuters) – Iran on Monday urged the formation of a new Yemeni government and offered to assist in a political transition, comments likely to anger Saudi Arabia, which is backing Yemen’s president against a rebel force allied with Iran.

The Houthi advance towards the Yemeni city of Aden forced President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to flee to Riyadh last month and triggered a Saudi-led campaign of air strikes to try to drive back the rebels, who share their Shi’ite faith with Iran.

Nurshayeva, Raushan.  “Iran calls for new Yemeni government, increases tension with Saudis.”  Reuters, April 13, 2015.

# # #