Poll: Russia's stance on Iran 'a mistake'
Rajab Safarov, director of the Center for Contemporary Iranian Studies
Some 82 percent of respondents to a Russian radio poll have said they deem Moscow's approval of fresh UN Security Council sanctions against Iran a "mistake."
The poll, conducted during a live Radio Moscow interview with Rajab Safarov, director of the Center for Contemporary Iranian Studies, comes one week after the Security Council voted to impose a fourth round of sanctions against Iran, tightening financial and military restrictions on the Islamic Republic.
The poll shows that 82 percent of respondents "assess Moscow's support of Western anti-Iran policies as well as the 'Yes' vote against the country at the Security Council as a mistake," RIA Novosti's Persian service reported Wednesday.
"The US and the West are seeking to lure Moscow over to their side, but this is not to Russia's advantage, since in the end Russia will pay the loss," Safarov was quoted as saying.
Noting Iran's central role in regional and international issues, Safarov went on to stress that by distancing itself away from Iran, Moscow has jeopardized its ties with Tehran.
He highlighted that Tehran could now pose as a new energy rival with its pipeline to Europe.
Safarov added that as a regional power, Iran would not allow any foreign interference in its internal issues, and praised Iran, Turkey and Brazil's nuclear declaration as an "international document, which offered the world a solution to the standoff over Iran's nuclear program.”
The pundit also urged Moscow not to renege on a deal to deliver S-300 defense systems to Iran, and to reassess its current policies.
In response to Safarov's remarks, Yevgeny Satanovsky, the president of the Institute of Middle East Studies, argued that any attempt to dictate policies to Russia is "meaningless."
"Russia has a president and he is Dmitry Medvedev and not Mr. Ahmadinejad (the Iranian president). Russia has a prime minister, Vladimir Putin…and the country has leaders who weigh positive and negative aspects of their decisions," Satanovsky said.
"It is true that Iran is an ancient civilization, which was on the map long before Russia, Europe and the US, but in recent centuries Russia has gotten used to its place on the map and the fact that it has its own leadership," he added.
Satanovsky said as long as Russia adopts a policy that it wants, talk of "conspiracies and alliances" is meaningless.
"Of course, one could sulk but this childish behavior would show that Tehran has not grasped Russia's intentions,…Russia has repeatedly told Iran that its actions with regards to the international community are not acceptable," he added.
The Middle East expert went on to note that Moscow-Tehran relations were dictated by the Russian intelligence service.
"The 90s intelligence reports under Vyacheslav Ivanovich consider Russia's main problem to be Iran -- not NATO, the US or even China," he said.
He said even current threats such as Afghanistan's drug problem and a possible threat of Pakistan's nuclear weapons are seen as secondary.
He also claimed that Iran was alone in deeming Russia a partner, as Moscow had never been "fooled into" an alliance with Tehran.
The results of the poll were announced at the end of the interview, with only 18 percent of the viewers agreeing with Satanovsky.