* Majid Muradi
Since the outburst of the events in Ukraine, Iranian Diplomacy has tried to sideline itself from taking a clear and direct stance regarding what is going on in the country.
It may be said that Iran has tried to clone the Chinese attitude which is based on refraining from taking any of the conflicting parties sides in order to maintain its economic interests.
Meanwhile, Iranian official media outlets which is supportive of the Iranian regime’s stances and sometimes conflicting with those of the Iranian government itself sees that what is happening in Ukraine is a cruel Western conspiracy to bring to life the U.S’s schemes in the region and that it is American-synthesized discomfort to punish Russia for its support of the Syrian regime and believes that Russia is paying the price for standing by the Syrian regime.
In spite of Iran’s neutrality, the Ukrainian crisis has dragged Tehran into the discord between Russia and the West.
At a time when Washington has expressed its hopes of the Western-Russian conflicts not having any negative impact on the Iranian Nuclear Program, the Russians have expressed that they could U.S the Nuclear talks with Iran as a power card against the US and the EU.
The exploitation of the Iranian Nuclear Peace talks as a power card has brought to mind the historical distrust of the Iranians towards the Russians.
The Russian obstruction of the 1906 constitutional movement in Iran and their backing of the Shah Muhammad Ali, the partition of Iran in 1907 and the Russian’s refuting of the S-300 rocket deal are few of the historical events which back this claim.
The Iranians accordingly have taken a sturdy stance against the Russians. The Russians did not play their cards right with the Iranians at a time when bilateral economic ties between the two have been shy in the past three years (1.5 Billion in 2013).
The Russians who vowed not to commit to the unilateral American sanctions on Iran and that they will only commit to International sanctions; the Iranian Ambassador to Russia has stated that Russia did commit to the US sanctions as well.
Moreover, the Russians stand with the West when it comes to having a nuclear neighbor at its Southern borders and the Western pressures on Iran have enabled them to reach their aim.
In spite of their muscle-stretching displays here and there, the Russians are unable of becoming a pole and the military attack on Georgia or the pressure on Ukraine and the adding Crimea to its map is not enough to bring back to life the Soviet Union, and the simmering of tensions between the Russians and the West will have short as well
as long term damage on ties with the West.
Hadn’t the West been unable of establishing large-scale trade with Iran which in turn inhibits it from replacing the Russian Gas with Iranian, the West would have had the upper hand in the Ukrainian crisis.
Though Moscow can use the Iranian Nuclear talks power card to counter European pressure if the situation in Ukraine takes a wrong turn; they are perfectly aware and intimidated by the fact that if tensions between the two sides continue to rise the West will pursue energy lines safer than those coming from Russia.
It is possible and most probable that Iran could be the sources of these lines especially as it is an independent state with an independent economy and it also has the world’s fourth oil reserve and the second gas reserve.
The intensified and uninterrupted European visits to Tehran in the last few months are clear proof that the West wishes to use Iranian energy as a less tense exit.
The European rush to seal the deal with Iran is no different than the Iranian especially as it could bring an end to sanctions and Iran could join the club of gas exporters to Europe.
As for the talks that say the Ukrainian crisis could pave the way ahead for an anti-West alliance between all of Iran, Russia, and China; it is very unlikely that such an alliance sees light as the components for such an alliance are still missing.
The timing which saw the outburst of the Ukrainian crisis post Geneva peace-talks does not call for Iran’s running after any Russian project and China’s neutrality with regards to the crisis reinforces dissimilarity that which comes in the best interest of Tehran.
Starting from the assumption that the current world order is multi-polar and not bi-polar order, it seems that the Ukrainian crisis is not on top of Iran’s list. And though Moscow has waved the Iranian Nuclear Talks power card it doesn’t seem that they do want to stand in the way of these talks.
If the crisis becomes more tense Iran has much props on filling the Russian shoes in supplying Europe with energy - something which is becoming closer to reality with the simmering of tensions between Iran and the West.
*Majid Muradi PhD student in Poltical Sciences at University of Saint Joseph
The article does not necessarily reflect our point of view