Secretary of State Hillary Clinton received bad news today in Moscow regarding her quest to secure greater Russian cooperation in holding Iran’s feet to the fire on the nuclear issue. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, speaking after the meeting, said that “all efforts” should be made to maintain dialogue with Iran:

We are convinced that threats, sanctions, and threats of pressure in the present situation are counter-productive.

Never mind that Iran already has stonewalled previous efforts to resolve the nuclear issue through diplomatic negotiations and is likely to run out the clock on the current talks, if left to its own devices. Today’s disappointing Russian statement undermines speculation that the Obama Administration may have secured a Russian quid pro quo on Iran for its earlier decision to retreat from the Bush Administration’s missile defense plan in Europe.

It also serves notice that Washington can expect little help from the U.N. Security Council in pressuring Iran to abide by its nuclear safeguard commitments as long as Russia continues to block meaningful sanctions there.