Russian Middle East expert Gevorg Mirzayan wrote an article in the Russian pro-Kremlin online newspaper Vzglyad, titled “Why Russia Is Handing Over Iran”, about the consequences of the upcoming trilateral US-Russia-Israel meeting in Jerusalem, which is expected to focus on Iran’s role in the Middle East region.
According to Mirzayan, it would be a mistake for Russia to move into the anti-Iran camp and “dump” Tehran, since it is not clear what Washington is ready to offer. However, the Russian expert stressed that Iran is not Russia’s ally, but just an important partner, therefore the Kremlin does not have to protect Iran’s interests.
Nevertheless, Mirzayan stated that it would be a mistake for Russia to reject Iran S-400 missile request for political reasons. According to Mizayan, such a decision would damage Moscow’s image as a reliable weapons supplier, and would complicate the completion of the Russian military operation in Syria.
It is worth noting that in late-May, Bloomberg reported that Moscow refused to sell Iran its S-400 systems. However, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov said that Russia has not received any requests from Iran for delivering its S-400 air defense systems. “Let them continue spreading [fake news],” Borisov said, commenting on Bloomberg’s article.Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi also said: “We have not requested Russia to sell S-400 air defense systems. We don’t currently feel we need these systems.”
Below is Mirzayan’s article:
Gevorg Mirzayan (Source: Sputnik.by)
Iran Is Not Russia’s Ally, It Is Only An Important Partner
“… If the information regarding the deal is trustworthy or semi-trustworthy (for instance, Moscow merely halted S-400 delivery to Iran temporarily and intends to discuss the issue during the meeting), then this shift is a serious mistake. The only real reason to abandon the delivery of S-400 systems is Iran’s refusal to pay in hard currency (which is not credible considering the importance Tehran attaches to purchasing the system). All other reasons are beating around the bush are just excuses…
“There may be various motives [for Russia’s readiness]. First, Russia and the US have finally concluded a ‘grand bargain’: Russia helps the Americans to solve their biggest problem (to contain Iran and ‘put it in its place’), the US reciprocates by ceasing to create problems for Russia in the post-Soviet expanse. This sphere in the end is far more important for Moscow than the Middle East.
“Second, Moscow has decided to remove itself and keep out of the US-Iranian conflict, which may result a full-scale war. Iran is not Russia’s ally (it is only an important partner), thus the Kremlin does not have to protect the Iranians the way it protects Abkhazia or Belarus. The Iranians have done nothing to gain Moscow’s loyalty – suffice to recall that, after sanctions on Iran were lifted, Iran signed multi-billion-dollar contracts not with Russian but with European companies.
“Third, Moscow could have been offered an alternative – say, Saudi Arabia, for example, had offered contracts and investments in exchange for [Moscow’s] refusal to supply Iran with the S-400 and shifting the Russian position towards the Islamic Republic. International relations is a business, it is nothing personal.
For Moscow, Betraying Iran Will Seriously Complicate The Completion Of The Syrian Operation
“Yet, precisely because it is business, Russia should not abandon delivery of the S-400 due to political reasons. First of all, because it damages Moscow’s image as a [reliable] weapons supplier. Russia has admitted that the decision not to supply S-300 back in 2010 was a big mistake, thus Moscow would not want to make the same mistake twice. Particularly now that the US decided not carry out its arms contracts due to political reasons (take the story of the F-35 aircraft for the Turks) –there is consequently a growing international demand for reliable weapons suppliers, who honorably fulfill their commitments.
“Additionally, for Moscow, betraying Iran (it’s impossible to call the abandonment of S-400 deliveries for political reasons by any other name) will seriously complicate the completion of the Syrian operation. Russia was not satisfied with the military victory over ISIS, it wanted to achieve a political triumph – that is, to reconcile Assad with the opposition and restore the territorial integrity of Syria. The dividend for this kind of victory is much higher than those from a military one, but the price of failure is higher as well. Without the effective cooperation of Iran (which is the main external player in Syria), Moscow can’t count on victory of that sort in Syria.
“Finally, ‘selling out’ Iran will be a mistake since there is no guarantee that payment will be received. Any concessions made by Trump in the former Soviet Union space may be blocked by the Congress, while all bonuses from Saudi Arabia will be reviewed ‘upon a US request’. Thus, in such circumstances, any desire to reach a deal is a manifestation of political naivety, from which the Russian leadership no longer suffers …
“Yet, all this does not mean that Moscow is unprepared to discuss the Iranian issue with anyone – even with the devil, even with Bolton. Russia stands for a diplomatic solution of the US-Iranian confrontation and hopes to dissuade the US from escalating the conflict with Iran. Moreover, Moscow is also ready to discuss Syrian options which satisfy Russian interests, but yet contradict the Iranian stance, on the condition that this does not amount to treachery. For example, the Kremlin is ready to take into consideration the interests of Turkey and some Arab countries in post-war Syria, while it is unprepared to support the Iranian pretension to include Syria in Tehran’s exclusive sphere of influence. However, the question is what Bolton is ready to offer in exchange. So far, the deal option is undiscernible.” See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 8111, Russia-US-Israel Meeting – Russian Expert Frolov: Moscow Willing To Play A Notable Mediation Role Between The US And Iran; The Question Is What Moscow Is Going To Get From Trump For This Service, June 11, 2019.  See https://sputniknews.com/military/201906071075711920-russia-no-request-s400-iran/  Tass.com, June 10, 2019.  Vz.ru, May 31, 2019.