A Little More East than West: Russia and Iran
Iran lost imperial territory to Tsarist Russia in the 19th century, and following the Russian Revolution resisted the territorial ambitions of Lenin and Stalin. Traumatic memories of confrontations with a powerful northern neighbor are still fresh in Iran, but relations warmed markedly after the collapse of the USSR, and again after Vladimir Putin became president. Russia has provided technical assistance and diplomatic cover for Iran’s nuclear program, endorsed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s disputed election, and now shares Iran’s aim of preserving the Assad regime in Syria. While a 2009 poll by a Russian news agency showed that 95.3 percent of Iranians had a negative view of Russia, the country’s role in the P5+1 group negotiating Iran’s nuclear prospects affords it renewed sway over Iran’s future.