Vladimir Putin has scored a success that President Obama could never have achieved on his own. He removed Iran from the front page of the papers so that only Israel and American Jews continue to worry about what is happening in Teheran. While clearly European Commission Vice-President and High Representative for the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy for the European Union, Catherine Ashton would have one believe that all is indeed moving along toward the six month deadline imposed by the P5+ 1, many outsiders tend to believe that the Crimea crisis was just what the Iranians could have asked for; a distraction and a postponement not of their doing.
In the region Kerry and Obama appear to be totally fixated on getting the peace plan framework accepted by Abbas when he visits Washington next week. They need to address the Ukraine-Russia crisis and feel comfortable letting the EU deal with Iran and Syria—certainly for the moment. As long as the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines jet does not eventually prove to have been driven by a Middle East terrorist(s), Washington is fine for the moment. In addition, the President needs to have something to show the Saudis when he goes there at the end of the month.
All of which underscores the seriousness of the Iranian situation. While everyone has agreed–more or less–not to ratchet up the pressure on Iran, it is imperative that they continue to believe that the U.S. will double down on sanctions if the six month hiatus does not produce genuine results. Underlining all the efforts to bring Putin into a more reasonable mode, it is not clear whether this White House has the ability to juggle all these international balls at the same time, and which ones will fall or receive reduced priority.