The Sunday Vremya program, a prime-time review of the week's news on Channel One, Russia's biggest TV network, this evening featured a 7-minute segment on the looming threat of war, focussed on a threatened attack on Iran. The story's dramatic tones may best be reported by quoting from the script.
"This week preparations were under way in the Persian Gulf for the possible use of force. Judging by the concentration of military equipment, we may turn out to be just one step away from war. These exercises are taking place in the Straits of Hormuz, off the coast of Iran. A record number of warships, in the region's entire history, has assembled there -- from over 30 countries, including the USA, Britain, and Saudi Arabia. Battleships, submarines, aircraft carriers, including Nimitz-class vessels with up to 70 fighter aircraft on board. The participants in these maneuvers do not conceal the fact that this show of force is addressed to Iran. ... Maneuvers on such a scale have never before been conducted here. ... Muscle-flexing is in full swing, heated up by bellicose rhetoric."
At this point, Channel One showed the video clip of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, saying that the United States "must stop Iran" from getting nuclear weapons, by drawing a clear "red line." Added the Russian reporter, "True, Washington replied that it will decide for itself whether to draw any red lines. But Israel is insisting, and hurrying them up."
After discussing various contingencies, such as Israel not wanting to start a war without the United States, while Obama has electoral considerations, Channel One interviewed Alexei Arbatov of the IMEMO Center for International Security, who said: "The situation is extremely explosive. I would say that it is the most acute that it has been in the past 20 years."
The Russian reporter likewise explored the Saudi role in the Arab Spring events, and their follow-up in Egypt and Syria, as representing the exploitation of U.S. power for Saudi Arabia's own purposes. Channel One also noted the position of leading U.S. military officers against the launch of a war, saying: "The Joint Chiefs of Staff are not burning with any desire to get into a war, stating that such combat would not be in U.S. interests." Nonetheless, Russian TV said, "Wars can begin through a provocation." The report then cited Thierry Meyssan of the Voltaire Network and other intelligence sources on various scenarios for detonation of a war, and discussed some aspects of its impact on Russia, including the prospect of massive refugee flows in the south of the country.
Immediately before this segment, Sunday Vremya recapped the just-concluded Kavkaz-2012 Russian military exercises, held in the south. The short review ended with the following citation from President Vladimir Putin's remarks on Sept. 17, when he viewed the exercises in progress: "Today, as in the times of [18th-century Russian military hero] Suvorov, it is important to fight not so much with numbers, as with skill. I want to emphasize that it will continue to be so. We shall strengthen the defense capabilities of our country. The importance of your work and your service to the Fatherland will only grow. You have had excellent training and are literate people; you see what is going on in the world and how, unfortunately, the use of force in international affairs in increasing. All of this means that we must keep our powder dry. We must increase Russia's defense capabilities."