Although Iran and Russia have substantial economic and military ties, Moscow is increasingly wary of Tehran’s growing ambitions. Dmitri Trenin and Alexey Malashenko offer a view from Moscow and detail how Iran’s desire to develop nuclear weapons and long-range missiles—while refusing to compromise with the international community—threaten Russia.

Key Policy Recommendations:

  • Russia should lead. Using its business and security links with Tehran, Moscow can help lead international efforts to dissuade Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
  • Appeal to moderates. By working with moderate pragmatists in Tehran, Russia can encourage constructive dialogue with Iran and help spur a compromise with the West on the nuclear issue.
  • Avoid a military strike. A military attack against Iran would divide the international community, destabilize the Middle East, and virtually ensure that hardliners turn Iran into a nuclear weapons state.

“Moscow does not have enough sway to directly alter Tehran’s policies and it does not want to be an intermediary between Iran and the United States,” the authors write. “But as Iran’s neighbor, economic and military partner, and as a permanent member of the Security Council, Russia can encourage moderate forces in Iran to compromise with the West on the nuclear issue instead of confronting Washington.”