As tensions continue to build up over Iran’s nuclear programme, the Russian military is bracing for a possible spill over of a large-scale conflict into Russia’s southern regions.
Russia’s highest ranking military officer has warned of a possible attack against Iran in the next few months.
“Iran, of course, is a sore spot. I think some kind of decision [to attack it] will be made probably closer to summer,” General Nikolai Makarov, head of the Russian General Staff, told a press conference in Moscow. He added that Iran was capable of giving “a sharp repulse” to the attack.
Another Russian top military brass, Admiral Vladimir Komoyedov said that given the current military build-up in the Persian Gulf, any spark could set off the fire of a regional conflict.
Adm. Komoyedov, who heads the Defence Committee in the State Duma lower house, told foreign military attaches in Moscow that the U.S. could attack Iran any time now with a simultaneous launch of 450 Tomahawk cruise missiles from the warships deployed in the region.
Russia is concerned that a conflict in the Persian Gulf may spill over into the Caucasus.
The Russian General Staff has set up a “situation centre” to monitor developments in the Persian Gulf “in real time”, General Makarov said.
“We are analyzing the situation round-the-clock and do not rule out any options,” Russia’s highest ranking military officer said.
Russian media quoted defence sources as saying that Russian military bases in the Caucasus – in Armenia, South Ossetia and Abhazia, had been put on combat alert. Military experts speculate that the U.S. may carry out strikes at Iran from Turkey, and that Georgia and Azerbaijan may be also drawn into the conflict. Earlier this week Iran lodged formal protest with Azerbaijan over alleged Israeli spy activity in Azerbaijan.
To prepare for war contingency, Russian warships in the Black Sea have been deployed closer to Georgia, and the Caspian flotilla has been relocated from Astrakhan to ports closer to Azerbaijan, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported.
Annual war games in Russia’s North Caucasus this year will be scaled up from tactical/operational to strategic level, that is, will involve “Russia’s entire military setup,” according to media reports. The Russian Defence Ministry has announced plans to supply to the Southern Military District 40 new aircraft and to assign to it two special commando units.