When Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi recently posed for a photo shoot with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the top-level conference in Moscow was a bilateral “turning point,” a “new chapter,” and even more. Was overwhelmed by the state media as a “diplomatic victory”.
However, a closer look at the optics reveals that it is still diplomatically wrong to say nothing. A critical observer at the January 19 meeting said Raishi’s arrival at the Kremlin was not received by an honorary guard worthy of his position as a foreign leader.
The flags of both countries were not placed in the conference room. The same observer pointed out that Putin rarely meets with government leaders and may even violate diplomatic rituals. Also, there was no joint press conference after the meeting. The meeting was held at a long table physically separated from the leader and lasted only 15 minutes.
At a public meeting, President Putin praised Iran’s contribution to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) political, economic and security alliance as an “observer” and claimed that Iran was recently recognized as a China-led block. And a regular member who believes in government-related experts.
SCO, Russia’s leading agency and China’s willingness to compete with the United States in the region, calls Iran an “observer” member on its official website. The Beijing Secretariat did not respond to the Asia Times’ request for clarification as to whether recent reports on the change in Iran’s status were accurate.
More importantly, Putin explicitly urged Laisi to share his views on the recovery of Russia’s endorsed Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal. Laisi reportedly declined to ask, simply saying that the Islamic republic was trying to “neutralize” the effects of US sanctions.
Raishi’s journey began with Putin’s invitation. Iran’s state media and Raisi’s publicity team initially hyped it as an “official visit,” but when Russia’s preparations to welcome him diminished, they modified it to a “real visit.” did.
Indeed, the relationship between Iran and Russia is substantive and long-lasting.
Former Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has visited Russia four times during his eight-year tenure. His Foreign Minister Javad Zarif is known in an interview that he has visited Russia 33 times during his ministerial mission and has worked closely with his counterpart, Sergei Labrov. Said.
With anti-Western rhetoric and ultra-conservative idealism at the new edge of Western relations, Laisi says his foreign policy vision prioritizes relations with neighbors and expands partnerships between Russia and China. Revealed.
The Raisi administration is currently negotiating to revive the Rouhani era relic, JCPOA, but appears not optimistic about its revival and restoration of relations with the West. Government agenda.
Relations with Russia date back to 1521 and have been characterized by dramatic ups and downs for centuries. How some Iranians campaigned for Russia to divide a large area of northern Iran’s territory from the country when the Treaty of Gulistan and the Treaty of Turkmenchay were signed between 1813 and 1828. I remember it bitterly.
This underscores the perception of certain nationalism that Russia has historically despised Iran and treated it as a colony. But today, Islamic republic prefers to soften the unpleasant past with Russia. Russia now relies on its security and economic lifeline in times of crisis.
Although Islamic republican trade with Russia exceeded US $ 3.5 billion in 2021, Iran is not on the list of Russia’s top 30 trading partners. Russia’s business with Iran’s other strategic ally, China, reached a record $ 146.8 billion last year, and even with rival the United States, it reached $ 33.6 billion.
Therefore, Iran has a long way to go to become a player in the Russian market. Little is known about its products in the Russian market, and most major banks handle Iran-related transactions, even though both countries are subject to compulsory US sanctions due to compliance with US sanctions. I’m discouraging you from doing it. And EU measures.
As for defense, Russia supplied 96% of Iran’s arms imports between 2014 and 2018, when most countries avoided selling conventional weapons. However, Iran’s northern neighbors have not yet suggested that the advanced S-400 air defense systems sold in Belarus, China, India and Turkey are ready to be sold in the dire situation of the United States. Hmm.
Delivery of four S-300 missile defense systems in a $ 800 million deal between Tehran and Moscow took place in 2016, nine years later, and Iran sent Russia’s defense exporters over the denial of the agreement. Filed a $ 4 billion lawsuit.
Putin reportedly hesitated to violate US sanctions against Iran and approved the transaction only when JCPOA was sealed in July 2015. Then it collapsed in 2018.
Iran and Russia are strategic partners, but their relationship is best described as a “marriage of convenience”, depending on the evolution of their respective relations with the Western countries and the role Russia plays in balancing the Persian Gulf Regional Alliance. Can be characterized, says academic visitor Diana Gariba at St. Antony’s College, Oxford University.
“Russia in the Middle East follows a strategy of balancing relationships with all sides, including relationships between adversaries. In other words, it follows. [has] We will build and continue to build mutually beneficial strategic relationships with Iran’s counterparts such as Israel and GCC. [Gulf Cooperation Council] State, “Galiva said.
Other experts say that despite Russia’s willingness to expand its ties with Iran, as long as Iran is separated from the international financial and banking system and is stuck in skirmishes with the United States and its Arab neighbors, the scope of the relationship Suggests that there is an upper limit.
“Russia is unlikely to provide security to Iran. Moscow does not intend to defend Iran against the United States or its neighbors in the Middle East. Moscow wants to maintain its good relations.” Said Mark Katz, a professor of government and politics at the Shar School of Policy and Policy at George Mason University.
“If Tehran could pay for them, Moscow would probably sell more weapons to Iran, but sanctions limit Iran’s ability to do so, and Russia and Iran. Both are oil exporters and therefore competitors. China is an oil buyer and therefore a desirable economic partner for both, “Russian experts said.
“Russia and Iran want to increase trade between Russia and Iran, but there is simply a limit to the extent to which they have the will and ability to buy from each other. And Russia’s interest in Ukraine. Clearly limits the willingness and ability to do anything for Iran, “he added.
That said, Katz believes Putin is interested in the resurgence of JCPOA. But otherwise Moscow wouldn’t worry too much. Russia is far more concerned about the possibility of improving relations between Iran and the United States than the possibility of nuclear Iran. “
Pro-Russian commentators, who frequently appear in Iran’s state media and promote the benefits of maintaining a steel-walled relationship with Moscow, are in the event of a military conflict involving Israel or a possible US strike against the country’s nuclear weapons. A site that hints that Russia can be trusted as a companion to protect Iran.
However, this is a scenario that many observers say is unlikely given the balancing behavior that Russia prefers to do in the region. In addition, its track record of involvement with Iran includes voting in favor of six UN Security Council resolutions that overcame severe sanctions on Tehran’s nuclear program between 2006 and 2010.
“If there is a war between Iran and Israel, Russians will be willing to defend Tehran,” said Alexei Muraviev, an associate professor of national security and strategic research at Curtin University in Australia. ..
“Russia may tend to strengthen its security and defense cooperation with Iran, including the possibility of transferring some advanced traditional military technology,” he said.
“But it will be part of Russia’s military technical response to the United States and NATO, rather than the choice to take the Iranian side in an ongoing strategic equilibrium game between Israel and some Gulf monarchies. “
Follow Kourosh Ziabari on Twitter. @KZiabari