By Ali Fathollah-Nejad Middle East Institute
Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, which triggered Europe’s first major conflict since the Balkan Wars of the 1990s, marks a watershed in the continent’s post-Cold War history. The conflict poses significant security challenges for countries throughout Eurasia and beyond, and has given rise to unexpected changes in long-established European foreign and security policy paradigms toward autocracies, as the case of Germany illustrates. Iran is by no means immune to the geopolitical changes underway.
Before the war on Ukraine broke out, after almost a year of back-and-forth diplomatic efforts in Vienna, the Iran nuclear negotiations seemed poised to revive the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The invasion, which caught many in the West by surprise, initially led Tehran and Moscow to seemingly modify their positions, giving rise to widespread uncertainty over the talks and even fears of their collapse. As of late March, however, the talks appear to be back on track and are expected to lead to a deal soon.
Beyond the JCPOA, the New Cold War pitting Vladimir Putin’s Russia against the transatlantic alliance has also re-energized debates within Iran about its implications for the country’s standing in the world order. In this context, it is crucial to analyze Iran’s domestic discourse about its powerful Russian partner — some might say overlord — and its relationship with the leadership in Tehran.