Slowly but surely, ties are becoming increasingly strategic and making progress on tapping into their full potential that’s regrettably laid dormant for decades.
Russian Ambassador to Iran Levan Dzhagaryan recently gave an interview to Izvestia on bilateral relations. It’s in Russian, but Google Translate does a decent job conveying his main points. Considering the growing importance of Russian-Iranian relations following the unprecedented US-led Western response to Moscow’s ongoingspecialmilitaryoperation in Ukraine, it’s crucial to report on and analyze the insight that he shared during his latest media appearance.
The envoy lauded the fact that trade exceeded $4 billion for the first time since he took up his post over a decade ago but still lamented that it’s far below its capabilities. Even so, he expressed optimism that it’ll continue along its current trajectory considering the growing importance of Iran for Russia. The two sides can cooperate more closely in oil and gas, transport, communications, IT, science and technology, humanitarian, food, agriculture and other spheres, Ambassador Dzhagaryan said.
There are couple of projects that he’s particularly optimistic about. These are the electrification of the Garmsar-Inche Burun railway from the central provinces of Iran to the Iranian-Turkmen border and the Sirik thermal power plant. Furthermore, the envoy noted that Iranian businessmen are very interested in Russia’s Astrakhan and Dagestan regions. From their side, they can export fruits, petrochemical products, pharmaceuticals, building materials, light industry, and textiles to Russia.
The North-South Transport Corridor (NSTC) is now more important of a priority than ever for his country due to the changed geostrategic situation since late February. Likewise, Ambassador Dzhagaryan is also upbeat about military cooperation too, reminding everyone that there aren’t any obstacles to this after the lifting of relevant sanctions in fall 2020. He also reaffirmed that Russian wares are used by Iran for purely peaceful purposes contrary to the false claims from others that they destabilize the region.
Regarding negotiations over a new nuclear deal, the envoy said that they’re complicated by American-Iranian disagreements that Russia doesn’t have anything to do with. He also dismissed Israeli media reports that the US is about to declare them a failure as wishful thinking, adding that he views their outlets with deep skepticism and distrust. He also praised the improvement of Iran’s ties with Saudi Arabia and the UAE despite Israel’s attempts to destabilize the region.
Finally, Ambassador Dzhagaryan hopes that more Russian tourists will visit the Islamic Republic instead of going to newly designated unfriendly countries but cautioned not to expect any sudden influxes because they’re turned off by Iran’s mandatory dress code for women and its strict banning of alcohol. While he fully respects Iran’s right to these policies, he also hopes that everyone understands that they also serve as obstacles to Russian tourists.
Reflecting on the insight that he shared, it’s clear that Russian-Iranian relations are indeed more important than ever before, as is their cooperation on the NSTC and related projects, including military-technical cooperation. Slowly but surely, ties are becoming increasingly strategic and making progress on tapping into their full potential that’s regrettably laid dormant for decades. With time, their relations will continue comprehensively expanding until they possibly become among one another’s top partners.