Moscow’s Ambassador to Tehran, Alexander Sadovnikov, has recently invited Russian energy companies to invest in Iran’s energy sector. But Bahram Amir-Ahmadian, Russian affairs’ analyst, is quite cynical about the outcome of cooperation with the Russians, and regards them as unreliable partners.
BA: They are not honest trade partners. The Russians have frequently failed to deliver on their promises in previous joint projects and contracts. Iran seeks help from Russia only because of the restrictions it’s facing in the international arena. But Moscow has not lived up to Iran’s expectations. It has been a signatory to all UN Security Council resolutions against Iran, while sustaining its trade ties with us. The Russians have meanwhile made the most of the sanctions in order to court the West. For Iranian statesmen, Russia is still a technological and armaments lifeline, but they seem not to have read history. Russia’s predecessor, the Soviet Union, left Egyptians high and dry during their war with Israel, and equipped Saddam Hussein’s army during the 8-year war with Iran. They turn covetous when dealing with other countries; fans of the win-lose game indeed.
BA: The Russians have kept to the terms of UN Resolution 1929 so far, and have shown little interest in circumventing the sanctions, since that would bring criticism from other members of P5+1 [five UN Security Council members plus Germany]. The energy sector has not been officially sanctioned by the UN, so Russia, unsatisfied with its current state as a raw material exporting country, can seize the opportunity. It can also find another opportunity to expand its sphere of influence in the Middle East. Moscow has lost part of this influence as a result of the pro-democracy uprising in Libya –with which they were a strong trade partner- where Qaddafi continues to crack down on the opposition with Russian weapons.