On June 13, two oil tankers – the Kokuka Courageous and the Front Altair - caught fire in the Gulf of Oman in an attack. The US immediately accused Iran of responsibility for the attack. The US also blamed Iran for four other attacks on tankers that occurred outside the Strait of Hormuz in May. Iran denied any involvement.
Commenting on the attack, the Russian Foreign Ministry said: "First of all, we would like to thank the Iranian authorities for assistance in rescuing eleven Russian mariners, crewmembers of one of the tankers (Front Altair). All of them were promptly evacuated from the burning vessel and taken to the port of Jask… Moscow resolutely condemns the attacks whoever might be behind them."
The Ministry then added: "We think it necessary to refrain from quick conclusions. It is inadmissible to place responsibility for the incident on anyone until a thorough and unbiased international investigation is over."
"We are worried over the tensions in the Gulf of Oman. We take note of deliberate efforts to whip up tensions, which are largely encouraged by the United States' Iranophobic policy. We call on all the parties to show restraint."
Russian pro-Kremlin commentators, such as Senator Konstantin Kosachev, commenting on the attacks in the Gulf of Oman, accused the US of fabricating fake news and evidence against Iran, in order to secure a pretext for escalating tensions in the Middle East.
Below is an overview of reactions by pro-Kremlin commentators and lawmakers to the attacks on tankers in the Gulf of Oman:
(Source: Oman TV)
Senator Kosachev: That Is Exactly What Happened After The Malaysian Boeing Fell Down In Donbass, And With The Skripal's Poisoning Case
Russian Senator Konstantin Kosachev wrote on his Facebook account:
"Following the very dangerous incident in the Gulf of Oman (the attacks on the two oil tankers), everyone certainly raises a question, what are the international consequences that this episode can cause? And last but not least, what will be the American reaction, taking into consideration that Washington is currently totally 'locked and loaded' against Iran in every aspect?
"Washington already announced in May that Tehran allegedly employed mines against four oil tankers in the Emirati port city of Fujairah, though the episode was highly questionable. So, we might expect new accusations against Tehran to quickly follow. I don't think this is a full-fledged casus belli, but it will do as a pretext for bolstering US military presence. It's possible, that the attacks were carried out with an eye to such an effect.
"Once again, we witness that the events are likely being shaped in order to [cause] consequences that are quite needed by someone. That is exactly what happened after the Malaysian Boeing fell down in Donbass, with the Skripal's poisoning case and with the alleged chemical attacks carried out by Damascus – specific actions immediately followed after: sanctions imposed, diplomats were expelled, and rocket attacks were launched on Syria. From still uninvestigated matters fully concrete actions follow: they impose sanctions, expel diplomats, and missile strikes on Syria.
"Thus, not only these or other international events arouse concern but those actions performed in their wake. If it is possible to avoid an escalation of tensions in the region, then the provocation would not achieve its intended goal and thus its repetition would be less likely. Yet, if there are other US threats against Tehran and other targeted actions (sanctions or bolstering military presence, then – and I want to be wrong – [the two oil tankers] are not going to be the last targets in the region attacked anonymously."
(Facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002123135703, June 13, 2019)
Senator Kosachev: Cui Prodest? Who Benefits? I'm Convinced That Iran Is Last On The List
In another post, Kosachev wrote:
"No one is surprised anymore by how Washington instantly 'took out of its pocket' 'evidence' of the alleged Iranian involvement in the attacks of the two oil tankers in the Gulf Of Oman. Actually, this is a bad sign for the White House: everyone understands full well that the US is an extremely interested party in this case. Everyone likewise knows that the US, when it needs to, is not ashamed to present fake evidence in order to justify its own accusations. If the truth comes out after many years, that's unimportant –it will be a done deal, while a couple of former politicians will mournfully repent.
"In such situations, an unbiased and independent investigation is needed of the incidents' circumstances. Unbiased means that the US or its representatives as well as local opponents of Iran categorically cannot participate in such an investigation if we want the truth to be established.
"One other thing, hardly everyone needs the truth. Provocations are not performed if the perpetrators are busted. Yet, the main question in any circumstance is: cui prodest? Who stands to gain? I'm convinced that Iran is the last on the list, while number 1 on it is indisputable."
(Facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002123135703, June 14, 2019)
Russian Expert Suponina: Such Acts Of Sabotage Would Be Absolutely Unprofitable For Iran
Elena Suponina, Middle East expert at the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISS), stated that a tanker war is in the making. "Of course, it is not the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s. But the current situation is very dangerous. Washington immediately blamed Tehran for the attack on oil tankers. But such a tanker war is absolutely inconvenient for Iran," she said.
She then added that such acts of sabotage in the Persian Gulf would be absolutely unprofitable for Iran, given its economic dependence on oil sales. According to Suponina, US President Donald Trump just wants to drive Iran into a corner to start "hard" negotiations. Trump's entourage, argued Suponina has trigger happy people such as White House National Security Adviser John Bolton, who hanker for a full-scale military invasion. According to Suponina, the danger is reinforced by the US' regional allies: Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. RISS expert recalled that events often developed in an unexpected way in the Middle East.
Suponina drew attention to the fact that more than 20% of the global oil trade traffic passed through the Persian Gulf. "There is a high probability of blocking these trade routes. So it is very dangerous to back Iran into a corner. Europe is interested in defusing tensions in this region. Russia may act as a mediator in a resolution of this situation. This is very important on the eve of the G20 summit in Japan," the analyst concluded.
(Riss.ru, June 17, 2019)
Russian Expert Fitin: US Statement On Tehran's Involvement In The Attacks Is Fake News
Vladimir Fitin, Director of the Center on the Near and Middle East at the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, said: "The US statement on Tehran's involvement in the attacks is the same fake news as its rhetoric on the use of chemical weapons by the government of Bashar Assad… Western Europeans are not that blind to swallow any bait, which Washington gives them. They are well aware that this is an unfounded accusation, and that's why they won't rush to sever ties with Iran like in the case with the nuclear deal."
(Tass.com, June 17, 2019)
 The Kokuka Courageous tanker, registered in Panama and owned by a Japanese transport company, was carrying methanol from Saudi Arabia to Singapore. The Marshall Islands-flagged Front Altair vessel, owned by Norwegian Frontline, was sailing from the United Arab Emirates to Taiwan with petrochemical feedstock. Tass.com, June 14, 2019.
 Tass.com, June 14, 2019.
 See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 8122, Iran's Doublespeak: Months Of Threatening Attacks, Taking Responsibility For Some Of Them, And Ultimately Denying Any Connection To Them, June 17, 2091.