No, Russia is not “in the lead” in isolating Iran. Yes, the “reset” is working in other ways, but it is still correct to argue that the last round of sanctions was significantly weakened in order to gain Russian and Chinese support. Anything resembling “biting” or “crippling” or severe sanctions of any kind was never going to receive their support. That is what matters, and on that point skeptics of all stripes were proved right. Hawks like to focus on Iran sanctions and Russia’s reluctant support for them when they argue that the “reset” has not paid off for the United States because they are anti-Russian and they are therefore offended by the “reset” itself. They like to make hay out of the purported linkage between Iran sanctions and shifting missile defense out of Poland and the Czech Republic because they want to bludgeon Obama for “selling out” allies to Russia. All of this is nonsense, but it has more to do with their dislike of Obama’s Russia policy than anything else.
What has prompted Moscow’s recent chastisement of Iran is the obvious displeasure with Ahmadinejad in the Kremlin after it did a significant amount to protect Iran from harsher sanctions only to be berated by Ahmadinejad for its supposed treachery. It is a fairly superficial diplomatic spat caused by the typically careless rhetoric of Iran’s demagogic president. Naturally, The Jerusalem Post gave the story a more dramatic headline to give the impression that Iran is losing its patrons, but if we look at the substance of the story we find that Moscow issued a stern rebuke and did nothing more. The Russian “turn” against Iran is about as real and significant as the “rift” between the U.S. and Israel over settlements, which means that it isn’t real or significant.