Relations between the Russian Federation and the Islamic Republic of Iran relations are best understood as a tenuous partnership that oscillates between “strategic” and “tactical” cooperation on common security issues despite long-lasting mistrust, unmet expectations, and weak economic ties. Overlapping security interests and concerns about instability have constituted a stable basis for Russia-Iran cooperation across the Middle East, South Caucasus, Central Asia, and Afghanistan. Russia has viewed Iran as part of its international strategy to contest U.S. primacy while bolstering Russia’s regional standing and recognition as a great power. The onset of the Syrian Civil War broadened the scope of interaction and intensified diplomatic and military exchanges between Russia and Iran. However, differences have materialized over Syrian military reform and competition for economic influence in the country.
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