By Sidra Khan
There exist a number of speculations regarding the lifting of sanctions and re-engagement of many western corporations investing in Iran that is creating a significant impacting Iran’s relations with Russia.
Different perspectives suggest that a resurgent Iran would contend with Russia as a significant exporter of oil and gas, which compels Moscow to thwart Iran building up its oil and gas potential. Be that as it may be, any projection of Tehran-Moscow relations should be considered in a larger canvas, particularly the role Iran is playing in Moscow’s foreign strategy to concentrate all the more strongly on Asia. Moreover, taking into account that Russia has been one of the dynamic actors from the six other world powers’ debating the nuclear terms with Tehran, it is therefore logical to accept that Moscow has been ensuring its interests in Iran and the Middle Eastern region.
It is a fact that Moscow has been occupied with a multifaceted strategic approach toward Iran’s nuclear deal. Proceeding to the rise of President Hassan Rohani’s arrangement of engagement, Moscow utilized the Iranian card to secure special considerations from the US and its allies. Subsequently, Tehran’s more appeasing approach on many events has remarkably altered the strategic statement. The ensuing changes can likewise also clarify the remarkable state-to-state meetings between Tehran and Moscow during the past decade.
Russia’s military presence in Syria has surprised many experts asit denotes another breakthrough in Russia’s geopolitical aspirations. Interestingly, since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Moscow for many years chose to participate militarily outside of its alleged Near Abroad.
In any case, Russia;s air strikes were conceived since the time that Qassem Soleimani, head of Iran’s Quds Force — and who is in direct contact with Ayatollah Khamenei — visited Moscow in July 2015. According to some reports, Soleimani’s visits to Moscow and his meeting with President Vladimir Putin was the initial step that prompted the vast Russian military presence in Syria
It has been argued by some that Russia purposely ignored UN sanctions by organizing such a questionable visit. It may be a case that Tehran demanded that only Soleimani visit and meet Putin in person to talk about the Russian outlay in the Syria battle, but what constrained the Russian president from acknowledging these dangerous terms from Iran?
Russia unmistakably has a great deal to lose if Iran recovers its political and financial clout in Eurasia. The Russian-Iranian marriage of comfort is liable to end once the two begin to oppose each other in European and Asian energy markets. Iran is prepared to invest a huge number of extra barrels of oil into the business sector, which is likely to apply a much more prominent descending pressure on the cost of oil.
Many Russian corporations that have signed various arrangements with Iranian firms from aviation to farming over the previous year are liable to be sidelined by European and American organizations with more modern technology.
During various gatherings between Russian and Iranian authorities, including the ones happening along the sidelines of the nuclear debate, Tehran was noticeably negotiating from a relatively higher position. Iranians likely understood the apprehension of losing a geopolitical accomplice that was inching over that of the Russian authorities and exploited it.
According to some sources in Russia, Soleimani’s visit to Moscow was the final nail in the progression of a number of previous meetings where Tehran proposed an arrangement that Moscow could not risk to refuse. The Iranian administration may have requested Moscow to participate in Syria in return for the progression of the Russia-Iran union in the event that the sanctions were to be removed. As it was, Putin who required assurances from Iran at a critical time for the Russian economy, essentially couldn’t refuse such a proposition. While authorities present Russia’s airstrikes in Syria as a cautious computation, it could be only an exchange to secure the nation’s political and financial interest in the Middle East. Tehran’s impact over Moscow, whether to deliver its presence in the Syria crusade likewise clarifies why Iran rushed to give flyover rights to Russian Syria-bound payload planes when European nations closed their air space to the Russians.
But the questions still remains as to why Russia took more than two months to dispatch its air campaign in Syria. The answer is the domestic political element in the United States. Russia was keeping its existence in Syria on a low level as the Iran nuclear deal was under rigorous scrutiny from the Republicans in the US Senate.
Russia and Iran have an intense history loaded with clashes that are established in both nations’ aspirations of being a regional force. Once both states are not entwined by a common adversary, Iran without a doubt will begin its inclination toward the West, which could include collaborating with the United States against Russia. The belief in Moscow is that, if this happens, Russia could begin to lose its impact not only in the Middle East, but also in the world.
*Sidra Khan is currently employed in SVI and completed her MPhil in International Relations