U.S. hawks insist at every turn on more and harsher sanctions against Iran. But the only means of pressure available to them may be either ineffective unilateral moves or aggressive extraterritorial sanctions that are likely to upset allies.

According to the Associated Press, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said yesterday in Europe that his country wouldn’t take part in more sanctions aimed solely at crippling Iran’s broader economy.

What’s more, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov swore off the “threat of” and the “use of force” as “effective tool(s)” against Iran.

So much for a new coalition of the willing. If the U.S. or Israel decides to go after Iran militarily, it will be like Iraq — a unilateral move largely considered illegal by the international community. Without Russia, you can count UN support unequivocally out of the question.

From the AP report, via MSNBC (my emphasis):

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that “any new proposals … would basically be aimed at suffocating the Iranian economy.”

He said that “was not part of the agreement” when the U.N. Security Council’s five permanent members and Germany started trying to allay doubts over Iran’s nuclear intentions with a combination of incentives and pressure.

Lavrov argued that the Istanbul meeting was “not a total failure.” And Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov also insisted that there is “very limited and fragile progress,” while emphasizing that Russia was against a nuclear-armed Iran.

“There is no alternative to further talks,” Ivanov said at a security conference in Munich. “We believe that neither stronger sanctions nor the threat of or, more than that, the use of force can be considered as an effective tool.”

(Hat tip to Dr. Walter Posch of SWP, a research institute in Berlin.)