The Islamic Republic of Iran, due to the existing challenges in its nuclear dossier and some other issues, is against the US and European countries, and basically there is no positive view towards the western countries’ performance and developing ties with them. In this situation the “Look to East” policy, and especially relations with Russia have gained special importance.
Though in the last century Russia had hostile relations with Iran, and even annexed some parts of the country, during recent years, the conditions have changed. At present, developing relations and proximity to Russia have become a serious option for Iran. The reality is that the bilateral relations between Iran and Russia enjoy a long history of cooperation regarding issues of mutual interest, and are being indirectly strengthened due to US policies against Iran.
During the last years, Iran’s proximity and cooperation with Russia led to the oil market being stabilized, and of course with cooperation of some other countries, the Gas OPEC was formed by the countries having reserves of this strategic resource to have morecontrol over their resources and interests. On the other side,the US efforts to globalize its intended unipolar order has been opposed by both Russia and Iran. The other motive for cooperation of the two countries is supporting creation of a multi-polar system and confronting the US unilateralism in the West Asia region. Iran and Russia’s joint interests in shutting down the US and other western countries’ bases in the West Asia region, countering the threat of ISIS and terrorism, arms and military cooperation are among the other motives and reasons nearing Iran and Russia together. After invasion of Ukraine, western countriessanctions against Russia has put the two countries in a similar situation along with efforts to neuter the sanctions.
Although, during recent decades, the Iran-Russia ties have faced serious challenges. Russia’s not so friendly positions on the Iranian nuclear dossier and the resolutions issued against the country by Russian support, multiple delays in commissioning the Bushehr nuclear power plant , not delivering the S-300 defense system to Iran, Russia’s mischiefs for preventing the Iranian Naval force in the Caspian Sea along with other issues have sparked long and numerous discussions and question about the Iran and Russia relations and whether they are balanced.
Some experts believe the Islamic Republic of Iran, due to its strategic and geopolitical position and enjoying various elements of regional power, has become of great status to Russia’s foreign policy, and this will help the Iran-Russia relations become strategic. Meanwhile, Iran/Russia developing ties, especially the political, economic and military ties on a larger scale, and creating a strategic map of relations, while securing the security and interests of the two countries,have become a nightmare for the western countries, especially the united states, and to some extent can strengthen the anti-American bloc in the world.
Against this, some other experts believe that despite Iranian officials’ view, Russia has no strategic look to ties with Tehran ; because this country , according to common practice of other countries , is pursuing its interests, and since Iran’s foreign policy is constantly tense with the west , especially the US, Moscow is not ready , in normal conditions , not in current times of war with Ukraine , to throw all itsinternational credit and weight behind such tension-filled ties and harm its relations with the US and other parts of the world. Also, Russia has wide ties with Israel and the Persian Gulf states, especially Saudi Arabia, and strategic relations with Iran which has a tension-filled approach toward these actors, will naturally have negative impacts on Moscow’s relations and interests in these domains. Therefore and based on this group of experts’ views, formation of strategic relations between the two countries is impossible in practice.
In general, developing ties with other countries and avoiding strategic loneliness, is the art and skill expected from every country’s diplomats, and the Islamic Republic of Iran is no exception in this regard. Therefore, developing ties with powerful non-western countries like Russia and China is generally a positive matter of sustainable interests. However, in developing international relationsincluding with Russia, we have to consider two basic principles: first “we should not put all our eggs in one country’s basket”; in other words, development of relations must be balanced and include a wide range of countries and players to benefit from the various interests of such relations in emergency and normal conditions, and in which no country be able to put us under pressure and isolation.
Second,that we set our foreign relations with all countries, Russia included, developing and optimally benefiting from the internal potentials and capabilities like updating the energy infrastructures, developing transit routes, activating them on the regional and international level, and augmenting production of agricultural, industrial and strategic products … , would create interdependence between Iran and others,beneficial to mutual interests, and following policies against Iran would be more costly for them.
By Dr.Mohammad Mehdi Mazaheri – University Professor
(The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the IPIS)