Russia-Iran Interdependency Can Only Increase in Near Term

Russia-Iran Interdependency Can Only Increase in Near Term by Melkulangara Bhadrakumar – Strategic-Culture

The recent visit by the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to Moscow took place against the backdrop of a transformative period in Middle Eastern politics. The cooperation between the two countries undoubtedly reaches a new stage, as highlighted by their quasi-alliance in Syria as well as the prospective long-term economic projects at the bilateral level.

But the relations are yet to reach the level of strategic partnership, which has been their stated mutual intention for some time.

Simply put, a dynamic bilateral relationship, undoubtedly of mutual benefit to both countries, is playing out against a highly volatile regional and international environment whose trajectory is difficult to predict, where Russia and Iran, each in its respective way, are stakeholders too.

President Vladimir Putin succinctly described Iran as Russia’s «good neighbour and reliable and stable partner». During the Moscow trip, Rouhani took pains more than once to caution that the Iran-Russia relationship is not directed against any third country.

The accent is on the bilateral relationship on the economic side, where a take-off can be expected at long last if the current expectations are fulfilled, especially in the all-important field of energy. Moscow and Tehran have refrained from making unrealistic demands on each other, giving space to the other side to pursue national interests.

Putin said the talks with Rouhani showed that «the positions of the two countries are quite close on many issues of international politics». Indeed, «quite close» is not quite the same as «identical» or «similar». But then, Russia and Iran have their own specific interests to pursue in any given situation regionally and internationally while they would have common concerns where they strive to cooperate.

Importantly, there are no serious contradictions.

Rouhani said that the «ultimate goal» of Iran-Russia cooperation is the strengthening of peace and stability in the region». The two countries may not have arrived at the destination yet to proclaim that Iran-Russia cooperation is a factor of regional security and stability – and there is no knowing when that might happen – but it is nonetheless significant that Rouhani has articulated the hope.

No doubt, both countries see the fight against terrorism as a crucial template of their cooperation. Rouhani estimated that the two countries have «accumulated considerable experience in the joint fight against terrorism». While saying this, Rouhani couldn’t have been unaware that in the Middle Eastern politics, the fight against terrorism also assumes geopolitical overtones.

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