Tehran and Moscow

While the whole world is staring at Ukraine and wondering what will happen next, the Kremlin is also active outside its weak neighbor. One of the most interesting chapters may be the relationship between Russia and Iran, two of the great powers of the Eurasian continent, which are trying to rebalance their always complicated relations.

Looking at the relationship between the two states from a macro perspective, the common interests seem to clearly outweigh the conflicts. After all, both countries are united by their complicated relationship with the United States, which in the case of Iran can certainly be described as open hostility. Should Russia be excluded from the international SWIFT system, as has already happened to Iran, these commonalities would be even more astonishing. Abandoned by the West, as the political leaders of the two states often see it, they are seeking their fortune in the vastness of the Eurasian Double Continent, in trade with China and the construction of a new economic system that is at least largely decoupled from the Western, U.S.-dominated market.

In addition to this rivalry with the West, a number of other common threats have emerged in recent years. One is the militant extremism of some Sunnis, which could gain new momentum in Central Asia after the Taliban took power in Afghanistan. In this area, we can already draw on joint experience in Syria. But Turkey, a NATO member after all, and its encroachment on the Caucasus, most recently through the war in Nagorno-Karabakh and the planned establishment of the Zangezur corridor, and the Central Asian republics are also causing concern in both Tehran and Moscow.

With all this agreement, however, it should not be forgotten that in addition to these cooperations, there are also rivalries between the two countries. This concerns Syria, where the weakness of the Assad regime has put the two great powers on notice, as well as the Caucasus, where Azerbaijan in particular is an important building block for the regional structure. Also striking is the fact that Russia has not yet sold its coveted S-400 anti-aircraft missiles to Iran, but has sold them to India, China, Belarus, and even Turkey. According to reports, Tehran has not always been able to pay for weapons deliveries as agreed in the past, which is probably why Moscow is acting more cautiously here.

In economic terms, too, the relationship is in no way special, with the annual trade volume amounting to no more than $3.5 billion, only one-tenth of Russian-American trade. In addition, there is the full-blown rivalry on the global oil market, which is an essential source of income for both.

As power continues to shift from the Atlantic world to the Eurasian continent, the relationship between Moscow and Tehran is becoming a central issue for the political order of West Asia.

Further reading:

https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/01/21/iran-russia-relations-raisi-putin/

https://rusi.org/explore-our-research/publications/commentary/iran-and-russia-hardly-realignment

Translated with http://www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

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