Iranian Diplomacy’s exclusive interview with Fyodor Lukyanov, columnist for Al-Monitor and editor of the journal ‘Russia in Global Affairs’
– Many in Iran believe that Russia was the winner in Iran’s isolation and the sanctions against this country. Do you agree with such an assessment? With an improvement in relations with the West, do you predict that Tehran would distance itself from its look-to-the-East policy and prefer the European markets to Russia for its energy?
– Relationship based on inability of one of the partners to choose cannot be sustainable. Yes, Russia benefits from absence of Iranian oil and gas on certain markets, but it no strategy at all. Russia is facing huge challenges with the need to diversify its economy, to find new markets in the East, and there is not a right approach to rely on expectations that powerful competitors are removed from the market.
– It seems that Tehran, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Moscow and Baghdad have formed a regional coalition to achieve victory in Syria. This is while Russia and the US established a coalition with regard to the elimination of the chemical weapons. Do you think that Russia will separate itself from its regional coalition with Tehran, Hezbollah and Baghdad if its interests are provided in Syria in the long-run?
– No, I don’t think so. The chemical weapons issue and settlement of Syrian conflict per se are not the same. Russia found an excellent way to avoid American intervention and saved all parties involved from huge losses and terrible consequences. But Russia will not yield for US or Saudi perception of the Syrian future. Russian interests and views on Syria objectively coincide with those of Iran and its allies. But, of course, it does not mean that Russia will side with the “Shia” community everywhere, Moscow will seek constructive relations with all countries in the region.
– Syria was one of the issues on which Tehran and Moscow formed a coalition for their common interests. Are there other issues at the regional level, which could justify this strategic unity between Tehran and Moscow?
– We share the Caspian Sea and need to work on this to transform this basin into a space of peace and prosperity. We share responsibility for the development of Tajikistan, which was created in current form with our mutual efforts in 1990s. I believe that Iran should become a full member of SCO as the most important regional player, by the way current rapprochement with the US and lifting of sanctions can contribute to that. Shaping a new Eurasia is our common task.
– The Americans will leave Afghanistan in 2014. What is Russia’s strategy for Afghanistan after the US withdrawal from this country? Will Moscow, which has bitter memories from its presence in Afghanistan during the Soviet era, take advantage of the US’ absence in this country?
– Due to bitter memories, Russia will be hardly interested to be seriously involved in Afghan affairs. Future constellation of forces there is unclear. Russia will be primarily focused on limiting and countering impulses of instability, which Afghanistan will certainly produce after withdrawal of NATO/US forces. But most attention will be paid to Central Asian security, not so much to attempts to enhance positions in Afghanistan itself.
Full article: Russia will likely benefit from US-Iran deal (panorama>>am)