Russia-Iran Ties Hit Unexpected Snag

Russia-Iran Ties Hit Unexpected Snag This image from December 7, 2023 shows Vladimir Putin (L) with the late Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi at the Kremlin in Moscow.

Russia has rolled back on comments suggesting that a major agreement with Iran had been suspended due to problems it faced with Tehran.

Since the start of the war in Ukraine in February 2022, Tehran has supplied Moscow's war machine with equipment such as the Shahed drone, which has been used to attack Ukrainian civilian infrastructure.

In September of that year, work on a new treaty between Moscow and Tehran was announced during a meeting between Putin and the late President of the Islamic Republic, Ebrahim Raisi.

Russia's Foreign Ministry had said in January that the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Treaty was in the final stages of being agreed and signed by Putin and Raisi.

But after the death of Raisi and other officials in a helicopter crash in May, it appears that the agreement has been delayed. Zamir Kabulov, a director in the Asian Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry, told state news agency RIA Novosti that a comprehensive agreement between the countries had been put on hold.

"The process, of course, has been suspended due to problems with Iranian partners," he told the agency in comments that were widely reported by other outlets, although he added, "I have no doubt that it will be completed."

However, Iran's ambassador to Moscow, Kazem Jalali, told the Vedomosti news agency that the agreement would be ready after the presidential elections on June 28 for Raisi's successor.

"This agreement is in the final stages, and if it were not for the air incident involving the helicopter carrying the late Iranian president, this agreement could have already been signed," Jalili said, according to the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).

Meanwhile, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday that the work on the deal is ongoing, although presidential elections in Tehran have meant that the schedule is "shifting slightly," Tass reported, but that this "does not change the picture."

Newsweek reached out to the Iranian and Russian Foreign Ministries for comment.

Iran is a key ally of Russia, and the countries' military and economic ties have deepened, causing concern to the United States and Israel.

But Hamidreza Azizi, a research fellow at German think tank SWP Berlin, told Newsweek last month that Raisi's death did not mean any substantial change in the strategic direction of Iran's foreign policy, such as its nuclear program and the confrontation with Israel over the war in Gaza.

However, he said Tehran's diplomacy "could be impacted until the new president elected and the cabinet established."

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