Iranian-Russian relations during the war in Ukraine: sit on two chairs


Iran’s position regarding Russia’s aggression in Ukraine is twofold. On the one hand, all the officials of this country say that they respect the territorial integrity of Ukraine and want peace to come as soon as possible, on the other hand, they supply drones to the aggressor, although they constantly deny it. And they vote against all anti-Russian UN resolutions. The USA and NATO are blamed for the war. According to Tehran, it was Washington that unleashed a war against Russia on the territory of Ukraine in order to take revenge for the fact that Russia intervened in the war in Syria.


Unprincipled information and foreign policy

Iranian media often quote various Russian officials and diplomats. When they talk about pressure and new sanctions against Iran for cooperation with Russia, the following passage is often cited: threats can only lead to the disruption of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — the Iranian «nuclear agreement».

The document is from 2015, the signatories are Iran, еру USA, China, Germany, France, Great Britain, Russia, and the EU. The Americans of 2018 left it. Negotiations are now underway to re-sign the contract on new terms.

Nasser Kanaani is an Iranian diplomat and the 13th spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iran since June 27, 2022

In the Iranian mass media, the position «everything is the fault of the USA, but it is more expensive to contact them» is very popular. Thus, on January 3, 2023, the local media published the response of the representative of the Iranian Foreign Ministry, Nasser Kanaani, to Volodymyr Zelenskyi’s accusation of supplying Russia with Iranian drones.

«Iran has not supplied any military equipment to any of the parties for use in the war in Ukraine,» the senior official said. He emphasized that Iran has always respected the territorial integrity of all countries and Ukraine in particular. And he also menacingly added that the Ukrainian side should stop spreading accusations because Iran’s «strategic tolerance» is not infinite.

Geran-2 — in Russian service, is an Iranian loitering munition in the form of an autonomous pusher-prop drone.

It has been known for a long time that the Geran-2 kamikaze drones, with which the aggressor country constantly attacks the territory of Ukraine, are actually Iranian Shahed-136 UAVs.

Drones are generally a painful topic for Iran. On the one hand, they constantly deny their supply, and on the other, it seems that they just dream of showing off this fact.

An illustrative example: in the selection of Tehran Papers dated January 11, 2023, a note from the publication Ham-Mihan («Compatriot», the newspaper has been published since 2000, it is called «reformist», at one time was closed — note) is quoted: «Surge in Iran — Russian relations». The publication notes that this surge occurred, in particular, due to the fact that Russia is under sanctions, and it is necessary to take advantage of this. The most interesting thing in the note is the following: «For the first time, we achieved military cooperation with Russia, and this time we are not just buyers, we are also sellers of weapons to Russia. At the same time, we have a surge in trade relations with Russia.» It is difficult to add anything.

Next, they say that the current situation should be squeezed to the fullest while there is an opportunity. And one of the promising directions is the construction of the international transport corridor «North-South» (Sri Lanka — India — Iran — Caspian Sea — Russia). Ham-Mihan writes that the corridor was agreed upon 22 years ago, but the Russians were indifferent to it, due to sanctions pressure on Iran, and the Kremlin did not want to cause trouble for such cooperation.

The newspaper cynically notes: «Now Russia itself is under sanctions; she is looking for a revival of the project. Because this is the best way to connect Russia with the world. It should be noted that the surge in Tehran-Moscow ties is not the result of Iranian President Raisi’s «Look East» policy, but the result of the war in Ukraine.»

«Now Russia needs Iran, that’s why this jump will happen, and in the future, when Russia does not need Iran, cooperation will stop,» the journalists are sure.


Moral legitimation of the killing of Ukrainians

The Iranians are actively and cynically using the current situation. They sell weapons to the aggressor, earn money, and try to implement infrastructure and logistics projects. At the same time, not formally support the war.

As mentioned, the Iranians have a strange attitude towards our country. They wish for peace and at the same time explain to the internal consumer of information that it is right to sell weapons to kill Ukrainians. In the Iranian media, Ukraine is sometimes called a victim of manipulation, then a puppet of NATO, then even «a military contractor of NATO in the war against Russia.»

Oleksii Reznikov is a Ukrainian lawyer and politician who has served as the Minister of Defence of Ukraine since 4 November 2021

This is the title of one of the program articles in the Tehran Times dated January 8. The authors draw the conclusion about the subordination of Ukraine to the collective West through the comments of the Minister of Defense of Ukraine, Oleksiy Reznikov:

«Ukraine lives with the help of Western countries and fights on the side of the West. NATO members are obliged to provide weapons to Ukraine because Ukrainians are sacrificing their blood.»

Further, the publication, completely ignoring the cause-and-effect relationship, notes that «the war in Ukraine began due to carelessness on the part of the country’s government, which is supported by the West.» Carelessness is probably the foreign policy course of an independent sovereign country.

The key question: who benefits? According to the publication, everything is simple here — the USA and Europe have created a large market for themselves by selling their weapons. And with them and Turkey. Finally, among the beneficiaries is the «Zionist regime», which has diverted attention from its politics by aligning itself with both sides of the war and using Jews living in the two countries to achieve its goals.

Iran’s position is cynical. He is not an ally or a partner of Russia. Unless situational. Tehran is taking full advantage of the situation: it is trying to sell its «adequacy» to the West, recognizing the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine within the borders of 1991, while at the same time intensifying cooperation with the aggressor country as much as possible.

Putin’s meeting with Iranian leaders

During a conversation with Vladimir Putin on January 11, 2023, the Iranian president expressed his readiness to help end the war in Ukraine, and also emphasized the perniciousness of «foreign interference» in regional affairs. We are not talking about Russian policy towards Syria, the countries of the Caucasus, Moldova, or Ukraine, as you have already understood. So, Putin sincerely welcomed Iran’s initiative.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the United States ambassador to the United Nations

Moreover, according to the information of the US ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas Greenfield, Iran is preparing to sell hundreds of ballistic missiles to Russia, which will fly to Ukraine, following the drones.

Iran can really benefit situationally from cooperation with Russia (sharing responsibility for all crimes of the aggressor country). At the same time, it takes the country a generation away from the lifting of Western sanctions, which have negatively affected Iran’s economy for decades.

And finally, about hypocrisy. Three years ago, Iranian air defenses, apparently by mistake, shot down a passenger Boeing 737 of Ukraine International Airlines. 176 passengers and crew members, who were Ukrainian, died.

On January 8, 2023, a helicopter of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps scattered flowers over the plane crash site. This is how the memory of those killed during this tragedy was commemorated. Amir Hossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi, head of the Martyrs and Veterans Fund of Iran, previously stated that the organization counted 73 victims out of 133 Iranians on board Flight 752 of Ukraine International Airlines as martyrs. Not a single word about the dead Ukrainians.

Editor’s note: on the third anniversary of the Boeing PS752 tragedy, mass demonstrations were held in various cities and countries, so not only Ukrainians want the triumph of justice, but also all the victims of this «human error», as then-Iranian President Hassan Rouhani twitted a few days after the downing of a civilian plane

Kostyantyn Grechany

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