Journal Essay

Russia and Iran

Mark N. Katz

Fall 2012, Volume XIX, Number 3

Dr.  Katz is professor of government and politics at George Mason University and the author of Leaving without Losing: The War on Terror after Iraq and Afghanistan (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012).

Russia's relations with Iran have been complicated in the past, are complicated now, and are likely to remain complicated long into the future. Although the United States and many other governments have been concerned about Russian-Iranian cooperation, Moscow and Tehran have both been frustrated by what each sees as the other's lack of cooperation. While Iranian-American relations have remained tense and Russian-American (as well as Russian-Western) relations have been problematic, the outstanding differences between Russia and Iran make close collaboration between them difficult.

This article will examine the extent to which Moscow and Tehran have — and have not — cooperated on several current issues of importance to both. These include the Iranian nuclear issue (especially UN Security Council activity regarding it), the Bushehr nuclear reactor, and Tehran's ongoing quest to purchase S-300 missile-defense systems from Moscow. First, though, something needs to be said about the evolution of Iranian relations with Russia up to the present.


A legacy of hostile Russian-Iranian relations dating back to the early nineteenth century continues to affect Tehran-Moscow ties now. Iranian historical grievances against Russia include the loss of territory to the Russian empire in the early nineteenth century; Tsarist Russian military intervention against the Iranian Constitutional Revolution in the early twentieth century; Soviet support for secession in northwestern Iran, at the end of both World War I and World War II; Soviet (and British) occupation of Iran during World War II; Soviet support for the Tudeh (Iranian Communist) Party; the Soviet invasion and occupation of neighboring Afghanistan (1979-89); and Soviet support for Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War (1980-88). Even now, the Iranian press regularly and routinely refers to these events as reasons why Tehran should not trust Moscow.

Before the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iran under the shah was an ally of the United States; both Washington and Tehran viewed Moscow as a threat. During the Cold War, the downfall of an authoritarian regime allied to the United States usually led to its replacement by an authoritarian regime allied to the USSR. Washington feared, and Moscow hoped, that this pattern would be repeated as it became clear that the shah's regime was falling.1 But it was not. Instead, the Islamic Revolution gave rise to a radical clerical regime that was both anti-American and anti-Soviet.

Moscow's relations with the Islamic Republic can be divided into four distinct periods: the Khomeini period (1979-89), during which relations were especially hostile; a relatively friendly period, during which Gorbachev and Yeltsin pursued rapprochement with Tehran (1989-99); what might be called a period of antagonistic friendship since the rise of Putin (1999-2009); and the current period. The last began with the beginning of the Obama presidency in January 2009 and the upsurge of the Green Movement protesting Ahmadinejad's claim the following summer that he had been re-elected president by an overwhelming majority. A brief discussion of the first two periods will be followed by a lengthier one of the third period and some observations on the fourth.


During the Khomeini period, the leadership of the Islamic Republic viewed Moscow as hostile for several reasons. These included past Tsarist and Soviet policies toward Iran, Soviet support for the Tudeh and other leftists against the radical Islamists during the power struggle following the fall of the shah, the Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan to prop up the Marxist regime there, and Soviet support for Iraq during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War. Khomeini, who had designated the United States as "the Great Satan," described the Soviet Union as "the Lesser Satan." The Soviets, for their part, feared the rise and consolidation of the Islamic Republic. They (quite accurately) saw it as the font of a revolutionary ideology that would prove more attractive than Marxism-Leninism to Muslims, not just in the Middle East, but even in the Soviet Union itself.2


The end of the Iran-Iraq War in 1988, the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1988-89, the death of Khomeini in 1989 and the downfall of communism in Eastern Europe ushered in what was arguably the friendliest decade ever in Russian-Iranian relations. Moscow began selling weapons to Iran and agreed to complete the Bushehr nuclear reactor. Moscow very much appreciated that Tehran did not side with fellow Muslims in the first Chechen war (1994-96), but expressed support for the continued territorial integrity of the Russian Federation. Since Iran is also vulnerable to secessionist movements, it shares a common interest with Moscow in suppressing them. Russia and Iran also worked together in bringing an end to the five-year Tajik civil war (1992-97) between Moscow's former communist allies and a democratic/Islamist alliance on terms favorable to the former. Finally, Moscow and Tehran both supported Afghan forces opposing the Taliban.3

There were, of course, some differences between Russia and Iran even during this period. With the breakup of the USSR, there were no longer just two states bordering the Caspian (Iran and the USSR), but five (Iran, Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan). The five littoral states were (and indeed, still are) unable to agree on how to divide the Caspian and the petroleum reserves beneath it. The main protagonists in this conflict, though, have not been Iran and Russia, but Iran and Azerbaijan.4

More important, Tehran was not pleased by the 1995 Gore-Chernomyrdin agreement (named after the U.S. vice president and Russian prime minister at the time), whereby Russia agreed to limit the amount of nuclear know-how and weaponry it provided to Iran. Even so, this supposedly secret but widely known agreement did not impinge too much on Russian-Iranian relations; it reportedly did not cover "in progress" Russian agreements with Iran, and Washington and Moscow disagreed about what was "in progress."5


Shortly after the rise of Putin, expectations emerged that Russian-Iranian relations would advance to something of an alliance. Putin publicly repudiated the Gore-Chernomyrdin agreement in October 2000. This was followed by the announcement of new Russian arms sales to Tehran as well as a renewed Russian commitment to completing the Bushehr reactor. President Khatami paid a much-publicized visit to Russia in March 2001.6

In July 2001, though, Iranian gunboat diplomacy halted an effort by BP to explore for oil off of Azerbaijan's Caspian coast in an area that Iran also claimed. While this did not directly threaten Russia, it threatened Russian interests, as Azerbaijan turned toward the United States and Turkey for support. (Moscow conducted a large naval exercise in the Caspian in August 2002 to show who was really in charge there.) At the same time, Moscow feared that Khatami's "Dialogue of Civilizations" foreign-policy approach would lead to an Iranian-American rapprochement that would result in Russia's having even less influence in Tehran.7

Moscow initially welcomed the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president of Iran in 2005, seeing him as a likely ally against the common American adversary. Putin soon learned, however, that Ahmadinejad's anti-Americanism did not make Tehran more willing to cooperate with Moscow. Putin appears to have genuinely believed that his various offers to enrich uranium to commercial grade for Tehran would serve to resolve the Iranian nuclear crisis. Iran would acquire uranium for its nuclear reactor, American and Western concerns about Iran's enriching uranium to weapons grade would be assuaged, and both sides would value Russia for allaying their mutual suspicions. While Tehran has expressed interest in each of these offers, its insistence on enriching at least some of its own uranium has only heightened Western concerns about the Iranian nuclear program (as well as prevented Moscow from achieving its diplomatic ambitions toward Iran and the West).8

Despite this, Russia (along with China) worked to delay the imposition of UN Security Council sanctions against Iran over the nuclear issue as well as to water down the resolutions that they did approve. Russian diplomacy appeared designed to convey to Tehran that Russia could protect Iran from the West at the United Nations if Tehran cooperated with Russia, but that Russia could side with the West against Iran if Tehran did not. Much to Moscow's frustration and amazement, this strategy did not prove successful.9

Russian diplomacy concerning the Iranian nuclear issue, though, has been complicated. On the one hand, Moscow (along with Beijing) has been much less eager than the United States, Britain, France and Germany to impose sanctions on Iran for not complying with either the UN Security Council or the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on this issue. On the other hand, Moscow has (again, along with Beijing) worked with the United States and the EU-3 to impose some sanctions on the Iranian government for its noncompliance.

This ambivalent diplomacy appears to result from ambivalent motives. Moscow delights in thwarting American foreign-policy aims but also wants to be seen as a responsible great power. Similarly, Moscow wants to maintain and further good relations with Iran (especially in the economic sphere), but — like the West — does not want Iran to obtain nuclear weapons.

Even when Moscow has voted for Security Council resolutions against Iran, it has sought to mollify Tehran by pointing out that Russia actually helped Iran by watering down the harsher terms that the West hoped to include. In early 2008, for example, the Russian foreign minister sought to curry favor with Tehran by arguing that the new Security Council resolution contained no new sanctions, and that Russia had worked to soften it. The Iranian government and media, though, have not been impressed by this argument. They have criticized Moscow for working with the West to pass any resolutions against Tehran when Moscow could have blocked them altogether through the use of its veto power in the Security Council. In January 2008, Kommersant quoted President Ahmadinejad describing Moscow as "playing the role of ‘good cop' in the Six."10

A similar scenario unfolded in late September 2008, when the Security Council unanimously passed a Russian-drafted resolution against Iran. Moscow pointed out that this resolution did not impose any new sanctions against Iran but merely urged it to comply fully and without delay with previous resolutions and with the IAEA. "The restrained nature of the new UN Security Council resolution on Iran can be considered a diplomatic victory for Russia," said one of Russia's leading Iran-watchers, Nina Mamedova.11

But, as Vremya Novostei pointed out, "Even the mild resolution caused the Iranians to react with their customary harshness. The chairman of the country's parliament, Ali Larijani, said yesterday that ‘the countries of the Iran Six are applying a policy of double standards to Tehran' and making ‘politically motivated' decisions."12 Whatever hopes some in Tehran may have had that the Russian-American tensions resulting from the August 2008 Georgia crisis would bring an end to Russian support for Security Council action against Iran were clearly disappointed.

The atomic-energy reactor Russia has been helping Iran build in Bushehr has also been a source of discord between Moscow and Tehran. Much to Iran's annoyance, Russia repeatedly delayed the completion of the reactor. After Putin's October 2007 visit to Tehran, however, a breakthrough appeared to be made. Shortly thereafter (December 2007-January 2008), Russia finally delivered the enriched uranium needed for starting up the plant. At the time, Russian officials stated that this delivery would enable the Bushehr reactor to be up and running by the end of 2008.13 Iranian officials indicated that they hoped this would occur even earlier, in mid-2008.14

By late 2008, however, Russian government and nuclear-power-industry sources were saying that the Bushehr plant would not begin operating until some unspecified time in 2009. Reasons cited included unspecified "technological" work and the need for the delivery of about 1,000 tons of equipment, integrating Russian equipment with that delivered by the West Germans, who had begun the plant before the 1979 Iranian Revolution.15

There was an important difference, though, in how Russian and Iranian sources reported on this. While a Russian news report claimed that Iran "looks satisfied" with the schedule for completing Bushehr,16 Iranian sources indicated that Tehran was not. On November 1, 2008, for example, the Iranian energy minister complained,

They have promised (to complete) it by next year. We hope that they will not fail to carry it out [their promise]. They have promised several times but they did not carry it out for some reason. Maybe they have their own reasons.17

In December 2008, though, the head of the Iranian Majles's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission stated that he did not expect Bushehr to be operational until 2010.18 The plant finally began operating in September 2011.

One factor that may well have delayed Russian completion of the Bushehr reactor is the ongoing Russian-Iranian disagreement over whether Iran should enrich its own uranium. Iran has long claimed that it is only working on a peaceful nuclear-energy program — as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty allows it to do — and is not seeking to acquire nuclear weapons. The United States and other Western governments, though, fear that Iran may be using its atomic-energy program as a cover for a nuclear-weapons program. They fear that if Iran develops the capacity to enrich uranium to the lower grade needed for a nuclear reactor, it will also be able to acquire the ability to enrich uranium to the higher grade needed for nuclear weapons.

Putin sought to resolve this problem through various proposals involving enriching uranium for Iran in Russia. Putin even obtained the Bush administration's approval for delivering commercially enriched uranium for the Bushehr reactor in December 2007-January 2008, since this supported the argument that Iran did not need to enrich uranium itself in order to run its nuclear reactor. Tehran, however, has insisted all along that even if it obtains enriched uranium from other countries, it is determined to also enrich at least some of its own uranium.19

Finally, as concern about the possibility of Tehran's acquiring nuclear weapons has grown, some have called for a U.S. and/or Israeli attack on suspected Iranian nuclear facilities in order to prevent this. According to some reports, Israeli forces have developed serious plans for such an attack,20 of which Tehran is undoubtedly well aware.

One of the ways in which Tehran has responded is by attempting to acquire S-300 long-range surface-to-air missile systems from Russia in order to deter or thwart such an attack. Both the United States and Israel (a state with which Moscow maintains friendly ties) have strongly urged Russia not to provide these weapons to Iran. They fear that Iranian acquisition of the S-300s would only help and encourage Tehran in developing nuclear weapons.

Russian commentary on this subject has often been ambiguous, sometimes suggesting that it could sell S-300s to Iran, while at others indicating that it is not doing so. Whether due to a misreading of Russian statements or a desire to push Moscow on this issue, Iranian officials have sometimes announced that Moscow has either agreed to sell or has actually shipped S-300s to Tehran. This has resulted in an international furor (especially in the United States and Israel), with Moscow stating more forcefully than usual that these Iranian claims are untrue, and Tehran claiming disappointment with Moscow. Just such a scenario unfolded in December 2007, when the Iranian defense minister claimed that Moscow was selling S-300s to Tehran, and Moscow subsequently denied doing so.21

During the "Medvedev era," this happened yet again. On December 17, 2008, RIA Novosti reported not only that Moscow and Tehran were negotiating over the sale of medium-range SAMs, but that Russia was "fulfilling the contract" to supply S-300s to Tehran.22 The deputy head of the Majles's National Security and Foreign Policy Committee also claimed that Moscow and Tehran had finally reached an agreement over the delivery of S-300s.23 On December 22, however, Russia's Federal Military-Technical Cooperation Service (the agency overseeing arms sales) stated that reports about Russia's selling S-300s to Iran "are wrong."24

The large number of Russian media reports denying that Russia had sold these weapons to Iran suggests that the initial reports that Moscow had done so were indeed untrue. One Russian journalist indicated that Moscow specifically reassured the Israelis about this in order not to jeopardize the Russian military's efforts to purchase Israeli unmanned aerial vehicles: "Reports on the possible sale to Tehran of the S-300," he stated, "have been appearing with a frequency of one to several times a year for ten years now. High-level Iranian officials figure as the source more often than not."25

Tehran might see reports that Moscow is shipping S-300s to Iran as useful even if they are not true; the reports alone might deter an attack. If so, Moscow's insistence on denying them was frustrating to Tehran, since they advertised that Iran does not possess S-300s, that Iran is thus vulnerable to attack, and that Russia could do something to help Iran but chooses not to. It must be especially galling for Tehran to think that Moscow is denying them to Iran at the behest of Israel — the enemy Tehran wants Russian S-300s to defend itself against. The fact that there was an Iranian student protest in early January 2009 in front of the Russian consulate in Gilan over Russia's silence about Israel's intervention in Gaza, and that this was reported by Iran's Fars News Agency, could be seen as an expression of Tehran's disapproval for the close ties between Russia and Israel.26

If news reports appearing in January 2009 are accurate — that the Bush administration rejected Israeli requests in 2008 for assistance in launching attacks on Iranian nuclear facilities27 — then it would appear that the United States has actually done more to protect Iran from an Israeli strike than Russia has.

SINCE 2009

Unlike Western governments, Moscow congratulated Ahmadinejad on his re-election as president shortly after it was declared in June 2009. In addition to protest in Iran against what was widely believed to be falsified election results, the Green Movement frequently denounced Russia during its demonstrations.28 In addition to registering its objection to Moscow's recognition of Ahmadinejad's re-election as legitimate and the long history of poor Russian-Iranian relations, the Green Movement sought to identify Ahmadinejad with a country that most Iranians regard negatively. Indeed, in November 2009, the conservative Iranian weekly Siyasat-e Ruz noted that even the Russian news agency, RIA Novosti, conducted a poll showing that 93.5 percent of Iranians have a negative opinion of Russia.29 Moscow sought to indicate its evenhandedness by calling for the election issue to be resolved on the basis of Iranian law, thereby slightly distancing Moscow from Ahmadinejad but calling for a solution highly likely to result in the recognition of his re-election as valid.30 Senator Mikhail Margelov, chairman of the Committee on International Affairs of the Federation Council (the upper house of the Russian legislature), made clear that Moscow feared a "color revolution" in Iran that would bring to power a pro-American, anti-Russian government.31 In that the opposition was anti-Russian, Moscow had little choice but to stick with the increasingly beleaguered Tehran regime.

Moscow, then, was especially unhappy when, in December 2009, Ahmadinejad began calling for Russia to pay compensation for the Soviet occupation of the northern half of Iran during World War II.32 Ahmadinejad may have done this because he sensed he was being perceived as too friendly toward Russia and wanted to distance himself from it. This was a subject, though, that Moscow did not even want to discuss. It does not see itself as owing anyone for any actions it took in conjunction with defeating the Nazis, and it does not want to set a precedent for providing compensation to any other countries — such as those in the Baltics and Eastern Europe — that the Soviets occupied for far longer.

There were also other annoyances to Russian-Iranian relations. In December 2009, the former head of the Secretariat of Iran's High Council of Marine Industries complained that Russia had not built three 63,000-ton ships that Iran had ordered for use in the Caspian. In addition, he also complained that, despite Russian-Iranian efforts to construct a North-South transit corridor from Iran through the Caucasus to Russia (and points beyond), Dagestan (a Russian autonomous republic in the Northern Caucasus just east of Chechnya) was not allowing non-CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) trucks to drive across its territory. He attributed this to a Russian desire "to be the only country that could demonstrate its power in the region."33

Thus, in 2009-10, with Russian-Iranian relations deteriorating despite Moscow's support for Ahmadinejad in the face of the Green Movement, and Russian-American relations improving as a result of the Obama administration's "reset" initiative, Russian-American cooperation on the Iranian nuclear issue increased. This is not surprising. Indeed, one of the goals of the Obama administration's effort to reset Russian-American relations was to obtain greater help from Moscow on the Iranian nuclear issue. In 2010, it appeared that this policy was highly successful. In June 2010, Russia joined with the United States and most other members of the UN Security Council in imposing increased sanctions on Iran for its continued non-cooperation on the nuclear issue.34 And in September 2010, President Medvedev announced that Moscow would not be shipping the S-300 air-defense missile systems to Tehran that it had earlier agreed to do.35

Since early 2011, though, Moscow began backpedaling on Iran. President Medvedev reverted to the earlier Russian line: there is no proof that Tehran seeks to acquire nuclear weapons.36 Foreign Minister Lavrov made clear, repeatedly, that Moscow not only does not support further sanctions against Iran, it thinks the time has come to ease them.37

What could explain this change in Russian behavior? Two developments in particular may have contributed to it. The first was the 2010 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty ("New START"). For Moscow, the New START treaty was an especially high priority. Russia has not been modernizing its nuclear-weapons arsenal at the same rate that America has, and Moscow was desperate to get Washington to agree to the limits imposed by New START. Otherwise, it would be difficult for Moscow to match the American strategic nuclear arsenal. But while Presidents Obama and Medvedev signed this treaty on April 8, 2010, the U.S. Senate's ratification of it was very much in doubt, due to Republican concerns about Russia. Russian cooperation with the United States on additional UN Security Council sanctions against Iran in June 2010 and Moscow's announcement in September 2010 that it would not ship S-300s to Tehran may have been motivated to some degree by a Russian desire to allay these Republican concerns. But once the Senate ratified New START on December 22, 2010, Moscow's incentive to appease the Republican minority there declined — at least for a while.

The second factor has been the democratic uprisings that have shaken the Middle East since the start of 2011. Moscow did not seem perturbed by the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia in January 2011, nor did it seem unduly upset by the overthrow of Egypt's Mubarak in February 2011. But when serious opposition to the regime of Muamar Qadhafi arose in Libya, Putin and Medvedev expressed opposition to the democratic uprisings throughout the Middle East. Indeed, Medvedev implied that these uprisings were instigated to foster a similar phenomenon in Russia and break up the country. In seeming contradiction to these sentiments, however, Russia (as well as China) abstained on the UN Security Council Resolution authorizing the imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya. However, while Moscow and Beijing effectively allowed the West to launch military action against Libya through their abstentions, Moscow then reverted to criticizing the West for undertaking it.38

With regard to Syria, both Moscow and Tehran have expressed opposition to regime change there. Both have portrayed the domestic opposition to the Assad regime as being inspired by foreign powers (Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the West). Moscow, along with Beijing, has so far staunchly refused to permit the passage of any UN Security Council resolution merely imposing sanctions on the Syrian government. In light of the Libyan experience, it seems highly doubtful they would allow the passage of a resolution authorizing the use of force against the Assad regime.

What accounts for Moscow's more sanguine view of democratic revolution in Tunisia and Egypt but opposition to it in Libya and Syria? This may be due to how Moscow views the differing geopolitical impacts on Russia of change in these countries. The authoritarian regimes that were ousted in Tunisia and Egypt had been closely allied to the United States. If their new governments maintain these ties, there will be no geopolitical change. But if they move away from Washington, there may be an opportunity for Russia to gain some influence — or at least more business. Libya, though, was a different story. While Qadhafi's relations with the United States had improved since 2003, Russia's relations with him had been better for longer.39 The downfall of Qadhafi, then, has so far resulted in an increase in American and a decrease in Russian influence. Syria has been even closer to Moscow as well as more hostile to America. The downfall of Assad, Moscow fears, could benefit America and Saudi Arabia and hurt Russia.

Moscow is also concerned about the prospects of diminished Russian influence in Iran. Russian analysts have long worried that an Iranian-American rapprochement could result in Western firms' crowding out Russian ones in Iran. Beyond this, they want to prevent Washington from working with Tehran to provide an alternative route to Russia for the export of Caspian Basin oil and gas. A democratic revolution in Iran, then, could — in Moscow's view — have profoundly negative geopolitical consequences for Russia and positive ones for America. This being the case, it is not surprising that the Putin/Medvedev leadership has sought to strengthen the Khamenei/Ahmadinejad regime in Iran, especially since Moscow views these democratic uprisings as being inspired, or even orchestrated, by Washington.

We cannot, of course, be completely positive that the U.S. Senate's December 2010 ratification of New START, as well as the democratic uprisings in the Middle East that began in 2011, caused the Kremlin to back off from its previous support for the Obama administration's policy toward Iran over the nuclear issue. Nor does Moscow's backing off from supporting the Obama administration on the Iranian nuclear issue since 2011 mean that it will not be more supportive in the future. The New START experience suggests that if Senate ratification is needed for something else that Moscow values, it might become more supportive of U.S. policy toward Iran once again. Further, if the democratic uprisings are crushed, spread no further or bypass Iran, Moscow may once again become more comfortable with joining Washington in pressing Tehran on the nuclear issue.

Whatever the explanation for Moscow backtracking on its support for sanctions against Iran, one thing is clear. The Kremlin was not persuaded by American and European arguments about the urgency of the Iranian nuclear issue or of any necessity to continue imposing sanctions against Tehran in order to deal with it. The Obama administration's hopes for a reset have not been realized, nor are they likely to be.


While Washington has been very unhappy with how much Moscow has cooperated with Tehran, the Iranians have been unhappy with the Russians for not cooperating with Iran as much as Moscow could have, due to a Russian desire to placate the United States. While Tehran would like Moscow to be a closer ally than it is willing to be, Iran can nonetheless rely on the likelihood that Russian-American relations will remain adversarial. So long as this continues to hold true, Moscow will not align itself with Washington strongly against Tehran. Yet, even if Russian-American relations deteriorate sharply, Moscow is unlikely to strongly support Iran against the United States. Nor does Tehran have any illusions about the matter.


1 On how initial Soviet enthusiasm about the 1979 Iranian Revolution turned to pessimism, see Daniel S. Papp, Soviet Perceptions of the Developing World in the 1980s: The Ideological Basis (Lexington Books, 1985), 59-61; and John W. Parker, Persian Dreams: Moscow and Tehran since the Fall of the Shah (Potomac Books, 2009), 5-10.

2 Parker, Persian Dreams, 14-16.

3 Ibid., 169-82.

4 Ibid., 147-68.

5 Valeria Sychova, "Declaration of Disaffection" (in Russian), Segodnya (Moscow), November 24, 2000, 1-2, translated in Current Digest of the Post-Soviet Press 52, no. 48 (2000): 1-2; and Brenda Shaffer, Partners in Need: The Strategic Relationship of Russia and Iran (Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 2001), 73, 82-3.

6 Mark N. Katz, "Russian-Iranian Relations in the Putin Era," Demokratizatsiya: The Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization 10, no.1 (Winter 2002): 71.

7 Ibid., 72-5; and Parker, Persian Dreams, 162-4.

8 Mark N. Katz, "Russian-Iranian Relations in the Ahmadinejad Era," Middle East Journal 62, no. 2 (Spring 2008): 202-16.

9 Ibid.

10 Sergei Strokan, "Sanctions against Iran Are Null and Void in Russia" (in Russian), Kommersant (Moscow), January 24, 2008, 9, translated in Current Digest of the Post-Soviet Press 60, no. 3 (2008): 15-16. In the game of good cop/bad cop, the "good cop" gets more compliance from a suspect by acting in a friendlier manner after the "bad cop" has behaved threateningly.

11 Pyotr Iskenderov, "Iran Is Set Aside" (in Russian), Vremya novostei (Moscow), September 29, 2008, 1, translated in Current Digest of the Post-Soviet Press 60, no. 39 (2008): 15-16.

12 Ibid.

13 "Russia Makes Third Fuel Supply for Iran Nuclear Power Plant," ITAR-TASS, January 18, 2008 (World News Connection).

14 "Iran-Russia-Bushehr," IRNA, December 31, 2007 (World News Connection).

15 "Iran Expects Russia to Complete Bushehr Power Plant on Schedule," IRNA, October 18, 2008 (World News Connection); "Russia Pledges to Complete Bushehr N. Plant in 2009," Fars News Agency, November 28, 2008 (World News Connection); and Artur Blinov, "Bushehr NPP to Begin Operation in 2009," Nezavisimaya gazeta (Moscow), November 28, 2008 (World News Connection).

16 "Russia to Complete Bushehr NPP Project 2009, Iran Looks Satisfied," ITAR-TASS, November 27, 2008 (World News Connection).

17 "Iranian Minister Calls on Russia to Complete Bushehr Power Plant," Vision of the Islamic Republic of Iran Network 1, November 1, 2008 (World News Connection).

18 "Iran's Bushehr Plant to Be Operational by 2010 — MP," Press TV (Tehran), December 17, 2008 (BBC Monitoring).

19 Peter Finn, "Russia Ships First Lot of Nuclear Fuel to Iran; Kremlin, U.S. Officials Say Step Removes Need for Tehran to Pursue Enrichment," Washington Post, December 18, 2007, A12.

20 Louis René Beres and Isaac Ben-Israel, April 23, 2008 (4:26 p.m.), comment on Chuck Freilich, "Too Late to Dissuade Iran?" Middle East Strategy at Harvard (blog), April 22, 2008,; Josef Joffe, "Assign Iran to Israel?" Middle East Strategy at Harvard, June 26, 2008,; and Robert O. Freedman, "Growing U.S.-Israel Gap on Iran," Middle East Strategy at Harvard, September 5, 2008,

21 "Defense Minister Najjar: Russia to Deliver S-300 SAM System to Iran," Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran Radio 1, December 26 2007 (World News Connection); Luke Harding, "Russia Sells Iran New Anti-Aircraft Missiles," Guardian, December 27, 2007, 26; Borzou Daragahi and James Gerstenzang, "Iran Reports Air Defense Purchase," Los Angeles Times, December 27, 2007, A3; and "Russia Not Considering S-300 Missile System Supplies to Iran — Federal Service," RIA Novosti, December 28, 2007 (World News Connection).

22 "Iran in Talks with Russia to Buy Medium-Range Air Defense Missiles — Agency," RIA Novosti, December 17, 2008 (World News Connection).

23 "Majles Official: Russia, Iran Agree on Supply of S-300 Missile to Iran," Press TV Online (Tehran), December 21, 2008 (World News Connection).

24 "Federal Service Denies Alleged Supply of S-300 Systems to Iran," Interfax, December 22, 2008 (World News Connection).

25 Gennadiy Nechayev, "Missile Neurosis: Israel Could Supply Russia with Unmanned Aerial Vehicles — But Only If It Is Persuaded That Iran Would Not Come in for Russia's S-300 Systems," Vzglyad (Moscow), December 27, 2008 (World News Connection).

26 "Iranian Students Protest over Russia's Silence on Gaza Events," Fars News Agency, January 6, 2009 (World News Connection).

27 Karen DeYoung, "U.S. Thwarted Israeli Plan to Bomb Iranian Nuclear Facility," Washington Post, January 11, 2009, A10.

28 Robin Wright, "Iran's Protesters: Phase 2 of Their Feisty Campaign," Time, July 27, 2009,,8599,1912941,00.html.

29 "Suspicious Opinion Poll by Northern Neighbor," Siyasat-e Ruz (Tehran), November 24, 2009 (World News Connection).

30 "Lavrov for Solutions over Iran's Elections on the Basis of Iranian Laws," ITAR-TASS, June 25, 2009 (World News Connection).

31 Darya Yuryeva, "Corridor for Ahmadinejad," Rossiyskaya gazeta Online (Moscow), June 17, 2009 (World News Connection).

32 "Iran's Compensation Claims for Russian, British Military Presence during WWII Groundless," Interfax/AVN, December 23, 2009 (World News Connection); and "Compensation for ‘Countenance,'" Vedemosti Online (Moscow), December 24, 2009 (World News Connection). See also "Iran to Demand Compensation for Damage Sustained during World War II," ITAR-TASS, January 9, 2010 (World News Connection).

33 "Official Says Russia ‘Fearful' of Iran's Strength in Caspian Sea," Mardom-Salari Online (Tehran), December 18, 2009 (World News Connection).

34 Pyotr Inozemtsev, "U.N. Security Council Imposes Sanctions on Iran" (in Russian) Izvestia (Moscow), June 10, 2010, 5, translated in Current Digest of the Post-Soviet Press 62, no. 22-23 (2010): 12-13.

35 "Medvedev Bans Sale of S-300 Missiles, Other Weapons to Iran," RIA Novosti, September 22, 2010.

36 "Medvedev Tells Leaders at Davos: No Proof Iran Building Nuclear Weapons," Tehran Times, January 9, 2011,

37 See, for example, "Russia against Unilateral Sanctions on Iran, Foreign Minister Says," Interfax, January 25, 2011 (World News Connection); and "Russia Cannot Back Further Sanctions on Iran — Lavrov," Interfax-AVN Online, February 15, 2011 (World News Connection).

38 "Lavrov Tells Outsiders Not to Meddle in Libya," Moscow Times, March 11, 2011,; and Artur Blinov, "Era of Wars, Revolutions, and Humanitarian Interventions," Nezavisimaya gazeta Online (Moscow), March 28, 2011 (World News Connection).

39 For a discussion of Russian-Libyan relations prior to 2011, see Mark N. Katz, "The Russian-Libyan Rapprochement: What Has Moscow Gained?" Middle East Policy 15, no. 3 (Fall 2008): 122-8.