According to Iran’s state-run media, the regime’s president Ebrahim Raisi is scheduled to meet the Russian president Vladimir Putin in the coming days to extend the 20-year pact with Moscow.
The state-run daily Farhikhtegan wrote on January 1, 2022: “The president will leave for Russia on January 19 at Putin’s invitation.”
The trip comes as the state media and many of the regime’s officials, including some former officers of the regime’s Revolutionary Guards, have on different occasions criticized Russia’s stance on the regime.
Hossein Alai, the former commander of the IRGC Aerospace Force, was quoted by state-run daily Arman on January 2 as saying, “Russia has never considered Iran a strategic ally. Russia has always used Iran as a card in resolving its issues with the United States. Russia is a rival to Iran in the field of oil and gas and does not agree with the export of Iranian gas to Europe, because it considers it as its market.
“Russia has always voted against Iran’s nuclear program in the UN Security Council, and some of them were proposed by the Russian government during Ahmadinejad’s presidency when most resolutions were issued against Iran. Russia does not agree with the enrichment cycle in Iran and does not consider the expansion of nuclear knowledge in Iran to be in its interest.”
The same day, the state-run newspaper Jahan-e-Sanat also described the relationship between Russia and the regime as being non-strategic.
“In the best of circumstances, it can be said that Russia’s relationship with Iran is tactical,” it wrote.
Jahan Sanat wrote that Russia has betrayed the regime many times, like when Security Council resolutions against the regime’s nuclear program were passed. Russia either sided with the West, especially the United States and voted in favor of many of them or abstained from vetoing them.
The state-run daily Jomhouri Eslami also criticized Raisi:
“Now, by moving to long-term agreements with China and Russia, we are not moving in the context of a balanced relationship, and we have turned the ‘neither East nor West’ policy into a one-way street that goes East.
“Russia has refused to support us in the face of Israeli attacks on Iranian bases in Syria, despite making the most of our military power in Syria to protect its strategic regional interests.
“Russia’s presence in Syria is aimed at guarding its sphere of influence and protecting its regional sovereignty. The Russians refused to give Iran the weapons they gave to some of our neighbors in our region,” the Jomhouri Eslami wrote on January 2.
The fact is that the benefits of Russia’s relationship with other countries, especially the Western countries, far outweigh its benefits with the Iranian regime.
Against that backdrop, many regional observers believe that Russia is not a strategic ally of the regime, and on many issues in the region, Central Asia, and the Caucasus, Russia’s interests run counter to those of the regime.
Another issue is that whenever the regime is grappling with a crisis at home and becomes more further isolated regionally and internationally, countries such as Russia inevitably distance themselves from it and pursue their own interests with other countries, including those in the region.
Nevertheless, given Tehran’s isolation on the world stage, the regime is compelled to deal with Russia and China, which explains why Raisi must travel to Russia to extend his 20-year pact.
As was the case with the 25-year “strategic pact” with China, the pact with Russia will also be the subject of scorn and opposition by the Iranian people, who reject auctioneering Iran’s resources to preserve the regime’s tenuous grip on power.