Putine-Pompeo meeting - Photo via https://www.en.kremlin.ru

US, Iran rift is not a new development. However, hawkish stance of Trump administration fueled the US, Iran rift at a new level. Unfortunately, European allies of the USA are not trying to neutralize US Iran rift. This is why Trump administration wants Russia to support the USA or at least maintain neutrality. This article covers what role Russia can play in current US Iran rift.

Russia was prepared for the visit of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. It seems that Trump administration wants to promote a dialogue process with Russia. Current developments in Syria and Palestine are important for Trump administration. At first the USA faced international isolation on embassy move and secondly, USA also seems alienated on Iran deal. As its European allies are still supporting the Iran deal.

Currently, the USA wants to put maximum pressure on Iran and Syria. And to actualize its dream USA wants the support or neutrality of the Kremlin. Despite this visit could not gain the desired results, both the countries agreed on cooperating each other. It was also suggested that a way forward will be determined in a trilateral meeting between the USA, Russia, and Israel. This meeting will be held in Jerusalem in the last week of June.

meeting between US and Iran delegation in 2016 – Photo via wikimedia.org

On the other hand, Russia also showed some positivities. On 15th May the Russian president made it clear that Iran should not solely depend on Russia in its ongoing rhetoric with the USA. He also expressed that Russia has played its required role in the P5+1 deal. This announcement from Vladimir Putin is seen as a positive development in Washington.

After almost two weeks of Pompeo visit, Bloomberg reported that Russia is not providing an S-400 missile system to Iran. It seems that Russia will move carefully in ongoing US-Iran tussle. Russia does not want to provoke Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Israel by supplying weapons to Iran. Also, it does not mean that Russia will completely leave Iran alone.

Now Turkey is also facing troubles on the purchasing of F-35 warplanes from the USA. The USA has maintained that F-35 supply will be blocked if Turkey moves on purchasing S-400 missile system from Russia. Other US allies importantly Saudi Arabia also wants to purchase S-400 missile system from Russia. After a tussle with Turkey can the USA afford the anger of Saudi Arabia?. Only the future will tell us about this.

However, due to US sanctions, Russia is currently unable to supply this missile system to Iran. That is why Russia is looking towards Saudi Arabia and Turkey as new buyers. A reduction in oil exports by Iran will give Russia a chance to increase its oil production, according to the Vienna agreement between the OPEC members. OPEC’s members are expected to meet in July. Russia will probably advise members to distribute Iran’s oil production in members state to nullify the uncertainty in oil prices.

OPEC headquarter Vienna Photo via wikimedia.org

Although Russia and Iran are allies in the Syrian war, Russia is more willing to solidify its presence in strategically important areas of Syria. However, It does not mean that Russia will support the USA in its rhetoric against Iran. Russia is not willing to change the regime in Iran. In fact, Russia will resist that. Russia sees Iran as an important player in the middle east. It also sees Iran as a country which has successfully targeted US interests in the region.

Clearly, Russia will try to stay neutral, but it will not allow the USA to dominate the region. Also, Russia needs Iran’s support in resolving the Syrian crisis. Russia does not want Iran to completely withdraw from Syria. Iran’s complete withdrawal from Syria will result in the chaos which Russia cannot afford. Also, Russia and Iran are cooperating each other in the Caspian region and Central Asia in the energy and security domains. In the 1990s, Iran helped Russia to stop the civil war in Tajikistan. Iran also supported Russia in its war with Georgia in 2008.

In 2009 the USA and Russia signed an agreement to re-establish the relations. This agreement stated that Russia will cut down its partnership with Iran. In 2010 Russia refused to supply the S-300 missile system to Iran. However, US-Russia relations again faced troubles when Russia forcefully annexed Crimea of Ukraine.

Russia’s S-400 missile launcher – Photo via wikimedia.org

Russia’s role in the current situation is also dependent on what the USA can offer Russia in response to later’s support or neutrality. To re-establish the relations with Russia the Trump administration will have to review many key issues. These issues include Crimean annexation, the insurgency in Eastern Ukraine, and increasing Russian interference in European countries.

Summarizing this all It is not possible for Russia to completely back the USA. It may amend its stance, but it will never ever leave its ally Iran alienated at this difficult time. Both Iran and Russia need each other at many international agendas.