Putin's visit to Tehran
However, it was not a state visit of the Russian president.
Iranian Press TV notes that Putin's visit to Tehran is his first in eight years. It comes at a sensitive time when bilateral cooperation in fighting terrorism in Syria and Iraq, and thwarting the West's sanctions on both countries, have drawn Iran and Russia closer to each other. Incidentally, on November 23rd, the Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree lifting the ban on supplying goods, materials and equipment to Iran.
However, commercial interests and economic cooperation are only a part of the official agenda. Vladimir Putin met with the President of Iran, as well as the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei. He negotiated for strengthening the geopolitical, strategic, and military alliance between the two countries.
The situation in the Middle East is also one of the forum topics, as some countries have been attacked by the ISIS terrorists (Egypt, Libya), while other countries fight against them (Iran, Russia), and yet other countries still are seen as supporting the militants (Qatar). At the same time, Iraq is a GECF observer, and some of its regions are under terrorist control. Of course, Iran and Russia have common objectives on many issues regarding Middle East security, although there may be some differences. Iran supports its Shiite allies, while Russia can back even Sunni partners if they have no connection with the terrorists and do not finance disruptive activity in Russia.
In the past week, military cooperation between the two countries became more active. Recently, the Iranian Air Force, including fighter aircrafts F-14 Tomcats, Mig-29 Fulcrums and F-4 Phantoms, escorted Russian bombers as they flew over Iranian territory to strike at the ISIS terrorist infrastructure.
Russia plans to transfer some its new weapons systems to Iran.
Recently, economic cooperation between Russia and Iran intensified. On November 16th, at a meeting with Mahmoud Vaezi, the Russian Minister of Finance Anton Selivanov said that the Ministry of Finance of Russia plans to expand cooperation with Iran. He, noting Russia's launching of a multi-billion dollar line of credit for Iran, restated that the credit is granted for infrastructure projects, particularly in transport and energy. A special structure for observing payments between countries is most likely to be created. On November 23rd, the vice-chairman of the Russian-Iranian intergovernmental commission, Mehdi Mohtashami, said that Iran supports Russia's proposal to establish an investment bank within the framework of economic projects between the two countries.
Earlier, the allocation of Russian loans to Iran for investment in infrastructure was announced.
Russian Energy Minister, Alexander Novak, said that Tehran was Moscow’s "most important economic and trade partner". The two countries, he said, have devised a package of projects of $35 billion to $40 billion.
Iran and Russia own the world’s first and second largest gas reserves, about 57% of the total volume along with Qatar.
Russia’s Minister of Trade and Industry, Denis Manturov, will head a delegation of executives from several leading companies during the visit to Iran in mid-December. Gazprom, United Aircraft Corporation - the Russian helicopter and Sukhoi jets producer - will send their representatives.
Ironically, Iran has previously been a victim of Western countries that imposed sanctions on it because of its nuclear program. Now, because of the Ukrainian conflict, Russia is under Western sanctions. Although the nature of the sanctions are different (sanctions on Iran is a UN Security Council decision), current events show that the US and its satellites will continue to put pressure upon Iran and Russia. Washington believes that Iran's nuclear program is a secondary issue, so the fundamental one in order to improve US-Iranian relations should be the cessation of Iran's assistance to the Lebanese "Hezbollah", that the US considers to be a terrorist organization. Iran and Russia have another view on the issue. This fact will encourage Iran to make its relationship closer towards a common position concerning Western countries.
Russia and Iran are likely to coordinate their further activities on a wider range of issues than they had previously. Iran's interests in the SCO, BRICS and the EurAsEC will contribute to a deeper and hitherto unparalleled involvement in the process of building a multipolar world.