The emerging geopolitical realities create objective prerequisites for rapprochement between Moscow and Tehran, for the activation and expansion of cooperation in the military-political, trade, economic, scientific, technical and other fields, in order to neutralize the consequences of military threats and sanctions pressure from the West, as well as its attempts to isolate Russia and Iran and prevent the formation of a new world order, writes Valdai Club expert Alexander Maryasov.
Russian-Iranian relations have consistently been of a friendly nature, developing without any particular ups or downs. However, the sharp aggravation of Russia’s relations with the Western countries after the start of the Russian armed forces’ special military operation in Ukraine (SMO) and the strengthening of Western sanctions pressure on Russia, have radically changed the international geopolitical landscape and given a serious impetus to the rapprochement between Moscow and Tehran. Iran has been under tough Western sanctions for more than 40 years, and is subjected to constant military and political threats.
Today the West, primarily the United States and its European allies, are making active efforts to inflict a military and geopolitical defeat on Russia, plunge it into a deep economic crisis, and isolate it in the international arena.
Iran is in a similar situation of increasing military-political and economic pressure from the West. The United States, which has not been able to overcome the syndrome of impotence and hostility towards Iran which has defined Washington’s approach since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, continues to impose new sanctions against Iran in an effort to further aggravate the social-economic crisis in this country. Washington won’t go to compromise in order to restore the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to resolve the Iranian nuclear problem (JCPOA); it threatens to use military force if Tehran approaches the so-called “nuclear threshold” in the development of its nuclear programme.
Under these conditions, Moscow and Tehran, within the framework of the proclaimed “pivot to the East”, have actively begun to strengthen ties and cooperation with states that have not succumbed to American domination and want to develop friendly relations with the Russian Federation and Iran.
The emerging geopolitical realities create objective prerequisites for rapprochement between Moscow and Tehran, for the activation and expansion of cooperation in the military-political, trade, economic, scientific, technical and other fields, in order to neutralize the consequences of military threats and sanctions pressure from the West, as well as its attempts to isolate Russia and Iran and prevent the formation of a new world order.
An important factor in the Russian-Iranian rapprochement and growing interaction was the understanding expressed by the Iranian leadership of the reasons and preconditions which forced Moscow’s hand in initiating the SMO, although officially Iran does not support it and has advocated a political and diplomatic solution to the conflict in Ukraine.
The concurring assessments of the military and political threats emanating from the US and the West as a whole, and the readiness to give them a proper rebuff, stimulate the maintenance of constant political consultations and the development of military-technical cooperation between the two countries.
Mutual visits and contacts between Moscow and Tehran have seriously intensified at all levels and in almost all areas, including the economic bloc and business circles. The work of the Russian-Iranian Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation has become more substantive. The fact that its Russian part is chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak, who oversees the energy sector, and the Iranian part by Oil Minister Javad Ouji, indicates that oil and gas, and energy as a whole, are the most important areas of the bilateral economic cooperation.
Preparatory work is underway for the construction of new phases of the Bushehr nuclear power plant and the Sirik thermal power plant in Hormozgan province.
Within the framework of the Memorandum of Understanding signed between Gazprom and the National Iranian Oil Company last year, the two companies work for the development of oil and gas fields in Iran, the construction of gas pipelines, the implementation of LNG projects, swap operations with natural gas and oil products, as well as the development of scientific, technical and technological cooperation.
The total amount of capital investments in the implementation of these projects may reach about 40 billion US dollars.
The state-owned Russian company ZN Vostok is developing five oil fields in Iran. The planned volume of capital investments exceeds 4 billion USD.
Plans are being studied to create joint ventures in the fields of mechanical engineering and aircraft construction. Under consideration are opportunities for cooperation in the automotive industry, shipbuilding, railway transport, agricultural and power engineering, and pharmaceuticals.
Direct economic ties between the Russian regions and Iranian provinces are actively developing. About twenty regions of the Russian Federation are involved in them.
In the financial sector, plans are worked out to harmonize the system for transmitting financial messages, since many Iranian and Russian banks are disconnected from the SWIFT system, as well as interlinking the Mir and Shetab payment systems, and making mutual settlements in the national currencies.
Of course, Iran will not replace high-tech Western markets that are currently closed to Russia. However, it has gained serious experience in import substitution and parallel imports, as well as extensive experience in circumventing Western sanctions, which Russia can use.
The closure of Western markets for Moscow and the breakdown of logistics chains linking Russia to Europe have increased the attractiveness of Iran as an important transport hub. Steps are being taken to improve the railway and maritime components of the North-South international transport corridor, passing through the territory of Iran to the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean. Russia actively contributes to Iran’s exit from international political and economic isolation. Moscow supported Iran’s entry into the SCO as a full member, and supported the Iranian application for joining the BRICS. The preparation of an Agreement on a free trade zone between Iran and the Eurasian Economic Union is in its final stage.
Today, prerequisites are being created for updating the legal framework of Russian-Iranian relations in order to elevate them to the level of strategic partnership. Moscow and Tehran have exchanged drafts of a new cooperation agreement. It will update the Treaty on the basis for mutual relations and the principles of cooperation between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Russian Federation, signed on March 12, 2001.