We hosted a team of international experts to give a first assessment of the US-Iranian relations and the Russian stance towards the conflict.
The focus of the event on the Russian positions in the Near East was on Iranian-Russian relations. Iranian policies are mainly determined by the enduring infight between competing elites. The JCPoA was part of this political game. Allegedly, President Rohani was aware of the fact that the chances for economic recovery through an agreement with the West would be minimal. Also, Iran´s options for retaliation for the assassination of General Soleimani are limited and, to all appearance, will boil down to cyber activities. Despite official hostility, US and Iranian representatives negotiate on a possible new deal.
When it comes to the Russian position, our expert panelist from St Petersburg University, Mr. Isaev, described it as pragmatic and neutral on almost any issue. Despite formal partnership with Iran, the last years have been marked with growing disagreement and made the country an “inconvenient partner”. Russia increasingly upgrades co-operation with Turkey to the detriment of its Syrian and Iranian allies. The downing of the Ukrainian airliner illustrates this point: While Russia was quick to blame its favourite enemy, the US, the admission of guilt by Iranian officials came as an unpleasant surprise for the Russians. Anti-US rhetorics was substituted by attacks against Iran. Still and overall, Russia maintains “normal” relations with all partners in the region and offers its services as a go-between.