chapter  13
13 Pages

Iran and Russia: From idealism to pragmatism

ByELAHEH KOOLAEE

Geographical proximity has meant that Russia and Iran, despite legacies of historical distrust and differing ideological systems, have nevertheless had to accommodate their mutual geopolitical and economic interests. In the Cold War era, despite Iran belonging to the American-led capitalist camp, there was substantial economic exchange between the two countries and the Shah sought, at times, to play off the United States with the Soviet Union. 1 With the Iranian Revolution in 1979, Soviet-Iranian relations remained strained and, during the eight-year Iran-Iraq war, Moscow supported both Tehran and Baghdad, and sought to bring a settlement to the war. With the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union, a new era of Russian-Iranian relations was initiated with new possibilities for developing and improving relations, which refl ect their important bilateral interests and geographical proximity.