Iran and Russia have complicated relations, but if the Russians manage to balance out here, they will be able to strengthen their positions on both the regional and global levels, Sergey Demidenko, expert in Oriental studies, assistant professor at the Institute of Social Sciences of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, said in an interview to EADaily, when asked to comment on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Tehran.
“Iran is not among our key trade partners. So, we need to understand what we need that country for. The Iranians are our potential rivals on the oil and gas market. If they use all of their capacities, our economy will suffer a lot. So, here we need a well-balanced policy. They say ‘if you can’t suppress a movement, you should try to lead it.’ Now that Iran is getting free of the sanctions, it is hungry for investments and technologies. So, if our companies get to that market the first, we will be able to strengthen our positions on both the regional and global levels,” the expert said.
On Nov 23, Putin arrived in Tehran to attend a forum of gas exporters. There the Russian president is supposed to meet with his Iranian counterpart and some other foreign leaders. The key topics are expected to be energy and the Syrian conflict. Western mass media say that the current alliance of Russia and Iran is situational and will not live long as the countries have absolutely different goals for longer-term future.
Demidenko shares this opinion and has specified the factors that have forced the countries to ally.
“Here we have a complex of factors. The first one is that we are rivals on the oil and gas market. Iran is not going to give up its plans to expand into that market. And this will certainly affect our positions. As far as the sanctions are concerned, we are part of the world community and had no other way but to observe the sanctions,” the expert said.
One more aspect here, according to Demidenko, is the situation in Syria. “Here we are allies, but our alliance is specific. Recently President Putin said that for Russia the problem of Syria is not the problem of Bashar al-Assad, while for Iran it is. Unlike us, who hypothetically speaking, could exchange Assad should the world community offer us some better terms, Iran is not ready to lose Assad – at least, because it invests in him no less than $4bn-6bn a year,” Demidenko said.
One of the common grounds between Russia and Iran is the problem of radical Islam. “Both nations are enemies for Islamists,” Demidenko said.
“On the other hand, we have lots of contradictions. The Iranians are not going to care for our interest on the energy market. In fact, they have no allies as they care only for their own interests,” Demidenko said.
He expect Putin’s visit to improve things on the oil and gas market. “Here we must be quick. If we manage to snatch a couple of good contracts, we will get access to their market. But here much depends on the terms we will offer. If we offer good terms, the Iranians will work with us, but if the French appear with better terms, they will prefer the French. This is a market of global capitalist competition. So, we must try to turn things into our advantage,” Demidenko said.