Russian-Iranian Relations in the Context of the Tehran Declaration



There has been a marked volte face in Russia’s position toward the Islamic Republic. This was made clear when at a critical political juncture – namely the watershed agreement on fuel swapping between Brazil, Turkey and Iran – Russia expressed support for the US-led UNSC resolution to impose a fourth round of sanctions against Iran. This paper argues that Russia, a country that has traditionally shielded Iran and weighed down on the US from pressuring her, obstructed the initiative out of economic and geopolitical considerations. Prompted by the eternal quest to restore Russia’s former status as a great power, the Kremlin has had to re-evaluate its relationship with Tehran. Moscow in is in dire need of foreign investment, advanced technology, and even markets, which requires thawed relations with the US. Moscow is ostensibly dissatisfied with the NATO’s eastward encroachment and also needs the US to turn a blind eye to it geopolitical aspirations in the former Soviet space. These considerations require that Russia warm up to the West in general and the US in particular. Incidentally, Obama is offering Russia a carrot – a diplomatic reset – and Moscow is biting the bait. Today, it appears that Russia needs the US more and the Islamic Republic less. However, Russia’s about turn suggests that Moscow is conscious that if the nuclear impasse is resolved, Iran would be on its way to becoming a genuine regional power. Furthermore, the Iran-Turkey cooperation axis could also suggest diversification of energy supply routes, breaking Russia’s monopoly on gas. With geopolitical considerations and energy politics in the balance, the stakes are higher, explaining why Russia has acted in an increasingly unfriendly manner than Iranians seem to have expected.