Pro-Kremlin Pravda.ru: ‘ Iran Is Becoming A Major Problem, First And Foremost For Russia’s Interests’, MEMRI
On January 22, 2017, the Russian media outlet Pravda.ru published an analysis on Russia-Iran relations. According to the article’s author, Dmitri Nersesov, Iran is becoming a problem for Russian interests. Nersesov also added that Iran wants Russia to choose between Iran and Washington. “Iran wants Russia to recognize that Teheran holds the key to the regulation of the Syrian crisis. Should Russia decide that the real strategy is built on the cooperation between Moscow and Washington, rather than Moscow and Teheran; the Islamic Republic will be extremely disappointed,” Nersesov wrote.
Below are excerpts from Pravda.ru’s article:
‘Observers Testify That Iranian Internal Propaganda Blames Russia For The Rise Of Iranian Military Losses In Syria’
“After the strange story of the Russian ACF [Air-Cosmos Force – in 2015, the Military Air Force and the Cosmos Defense were united] usage of the Iranian Hamadan military airbase, it became absolutely clear that Tehran cannot be fully trusted. Events of the last several days only strengthen that feeling. Russian-Iranian contradictions appear not only in the vicinity of Syria, but also start influence the Russian-U.S. relations. And that is very serious…
“The point is that Moscow intended the Astana negotiations to become the initial platform for establishing a practical dialogue with the new American administration. That is what the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov sought to convey at his press-conference. Lavrov said: ‘We consider it right to invite the representatives of the UN and the new U.S. administration to this meeting. We expect that new American administration can accept this invitation and will be represented by its experts of any possible level’… The fact that inviting the Americans was coordinated with Ankara must not be ignored.
“What about Tehran?
“The following was stated there: ‘We did not invite them, we are against their presence’. These words by the Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif are cited by the news agencies. Thus Iran had publicly rejected its allies’ initiative… It seems like that this position of the Iranian leadership does not specifically relate to Syria’s problems. Zarif’s words are a message to Moscow and Washington. We shall try to decipher it.
“The Iranians want Moscow to clearly understand that they intend to control as strictly as possible the implementation of its strategy in Syria, and in the long term– in the Middle East generally. Tehran is able to create problems in fulfilling the combat tasks (by blocking access to the Hamadan airbase), in reaching ceasefire and humanitarian pauses (frequently the pro-Iran Shi’ite units have frustrated these initiatives), and renewing Russia-U.S. contacts on Syria.
“Simultaneously, Tehran’s demarche seemingly forces Moscow to make a choice: between us [Iran], or Ankara define your choice Russians! You can definitely negotiate with the Turks the ceasefire between the Syrian [factions], you can even conduct joint airstrikes against terrorists, but without us, the Iranians, you will not attain any practical goals. Take into account that today Turkey is weak, and it will stay like this indefinitely. And Iran is only getting stronger, as the sanctions against it had been removed, and you will compete with Western corporations for the right to participate in strengthening Iran!
“The Iranians present Moscow with a similar choice regarding the relations with Washington: will Iran or remain Russia’s leading partner in Syria and in the region generally or [will it be] Washington? If Moscow does not fully and decisively acknowledge that the keys to managing the Middle East are in Tehran, and only the intimate team work with Iran makes possible to promote the Russian interests here; if Moscow will ‘suddenly’ decide that the ‘real strategy’ is built not along the Tehran-Moscow axis, but along the Moscow-Washington one – the Islamic Republic will be very disappointed. And will find – definitely find! – the means to punish the ‘arrogant Russians’.
“In this context one should note that during the recent funeral of Hashemi Rafsanjani…was accompanied by the chanting of anti-Russian slogans. Observers testify that Iranian internal propaganda blames Russia precisely for the rise of Iranian military losses in Syria. This should not come as a surprise, because the Russian ACF were kicked out of the Hamadan [military airbase] for ‘ungentlemanly behavior’ and ‘arrogance’. Iran quite willingly believes that any foreigner only thinks about showing them his ‘arrogance’, and they do not forgive this sin. All the more so when it is Russia – the ‘small Satan’ for those who inherited Imam Khomeini’s set of values…
‘It Depends On The U.S. When Iran Will Become A Full-Fledged Nuclear Power’
“Washington? What message did Tehran send to the new president Trump?
“The main thesis is the same: Iran is the leading player in the regional arena, it has the capacity to exert a critical influence on Russia’s position and actions even with regards to Russian-American contacts. In a language resembling Trump’s, it sounds something like this: Tehran is the blocking shareholder in Syria and in the Middle East. Draw your conclusions, Mr. President!
“To talk this way with great powers, Iran must hold strong trump cards. It has them. The main one is the notorious ‘nuclear program’ and the famous deal about it.
“What is the heart of the matter? Ten years of struggle (since Bush-junior) against Iran getting the nuclear missiles brought Iran to the threshold of owning such a weapon. It has the carriers. The warheads which it ostensibly does not have (yet?) can be almost surely made within 15 years, when the limitations imposed as part of the ‘deal’ expire.
“That ‘deal’ was Obama’s favorite baby, his fundamental foreign policy achievement (by his own admission). This achievement means that now it depends on the U.S. when Iran will become a full-fledged nuclear power. For Tehran, just after signing the ‘deal’ (the full text of which no one has seen) had promptly warned everybody: any act which the Iranians will consider to be its violation will mean the abnegation of agreements, and then the Islamic Republic of Iran will consider itself free to implement its nuclear program.
“Of all the ‘deal’ participants (the U.S., Russia, China, France, Britain, Germany, Iran), only the U.S. is interested and capable of provoking Iran to such a step, for even under Obama, Washington did not lift all the sanctions imposed on Iran. And Trump even claims the intent to renege on Iran’s nuclear program agreement. And if he will really do it, Tehran will have carte blanche to continue the work the result of which may become (with intolerably high probability) the appearance of her nuclear weapon.
“In view of this logic, Iran’s message to Trump is: ‘Mr. President! Upon your first signal, we shall do what your predecessors had steadily led us to! To build our blocking shares into controlling ones we need only a nuclear truncheon. When we get it depends on your decision’.
“Against this background, it is desirable to note a significant detail: several weeks ago, Iran announced the beginning of a program for building a nuclear navy. This means its transformation in the near future into an ocean power capable of ‘force projection’ in the Persian Gulf, in the Indian Ocean, and in the Red and Mediterranean Seas.
“It appears that all this suffices to understand: Iran is becoming a major problem, first and foremost for Russia’s interests. Surely, much can be explained by the upcoming May presidential elections in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Nevertheless, it would be useful to find a way of making Tehran politicians understand that their behavior is becoming too provocative.
“Perhaps the launch of cruise missiles from the Caspian flotilla bears repetition?”
 Pravda.ru, January 22, 2017.
 See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6577, Russian Strategic Bombers Deployed To Iran; Russian Senator Says Nuclear Weapons, Heavy Bombers Will Not Be Permanently Deployed In Syria, August 16, 2016.
See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6589, Russia This Week – August 22-29, 2016, August 28, 2016.
See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6582, Russia This Week – August 15 – 22, 2016, August 21, 2016.