Monday’s meeting between Russian and Iranian foreign ministers is fueling new speculation both countries are forging closer ties after July’s nuclear agreement.
Fox News National Security Analyst KT McFarland spoke to foreign policy experts John Hannah and Anna Borshchevskaya about Iran’s evolving relationship with Russia.
“We’ve seen the warming of Russian-Iranian relations ties for several years now … now that we have a new deal, they are simply profiting from it,” said Borshchevskaya, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
A boost in military and political cooperation has U.S. officials and their overseas counterparts closely monitoring any significant changes in the Middle East from Russia or Iran.
U.S. officials first raised concerns when it was revealed Iran’s Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani met with Russian officials in Moscow in July. Soleimani was able to travel despite a travel ban and U.N. Security Council resolutions barring him from leaving Iran.
The Iranians also are expecting the Russians, by the end of 2015, to deliver the S-300 air defense missile system to Tehran as part of a deal signed earlier in the year.
“This is a very dangerous development of course; this part of the Iran deal,” said Hannah, senior counselor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
Hannah suspects that even though the conventional arms embargo remains in place for five years, “we will see Iran go on a shopping spree for the most advanced conventional weapons in both Russia and China.”
He sees the Iranians wanting advanced air defense systems because “when Iran is ready to break out a nuclear bomb, it will make its airspace impenetrable from both U.S. and Israeli military attacks.”
The Iranians and Russians are looking to test their strategic partnership once again in Syria. Both countries support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime as it fights moderate rebels and ISIS terrorists.
“Russia has been very quick to step into this vacuum on Syria when it came to dealing with Assad … because Russia and Iran agree pretty much on what to do in Syria … we will see a continuation of” that cooperation, said Borshchevskaya.