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The ‘Defense Diplomacy’ of the Islamic Republic of Iran towards Russia

By Sajad Abedi*


The Islamic Republic of Iran considers defense diplomacy as a key means of strengthening the efforts of the defense sector in the supine area in the process of rebuilding the country’s defense base, which has been used as a new concept and has been emphasized in the formulation of a national defense and national security strategy. In this context, Iran’s relations with Russia are becoming increasingly important in the overall political defenses of Iran. Given Russia’s strong position in the global power hierarchy, Iran-Russia defense cooperation can provide important achievements for Iran and regional stability and strengthening deterrence strategy.

Defense diplomacy is part of the national power of a country that, along with foreign policy, forms the source of power to enhance the capacity of action and action of a country in foreign relations. This diplomacy will not only monitor the application of diplomatic policy, but also guarantee the sharing of diplomacy in defense policy.

Indeed, the link between defense and military activities with diplomatic activities can be a powerful interconnected tool of national power. On the other hand, the use of defense diplomacy will be effective both in times of peace and war, as well as in preventing conflicts and even using the capacities of the international environment to strengthen the capabilities and effects of wartime times (including the provision of national defense and military needs).

Accordingly, defense diplomacy for Iran is a strategy to strengthen the efforts of the defense sector in the process of reconstruction of the country’s prosperity. Therefore, the achievement of vast capabilities in defense diplomacy requires understanding of the periphery, deep understanding of Iran’s position, theorizing and conceptualization to create a dialogue to strengthen the country’s defense capabilities and capabilities, which inevitably has to rely on global domination and the common discourse in this area is the knowledge of global politics.

In this context, Iran is also considered to be a regional power that has historically had a role in influencing the surrounding strategic environmental, with Iran’s indigenous defensive capabilities growing drastically after the revolution. But this cannot be considered as the only component of improving regional defense capabilities of Iran. Because of the cross-border security conflicts in Iran’s regional environment, the use of defense treaties (bilateral agreements) is the most desirable for Iran. Accordingly, “Russia” is one of the countries that help Iran’s pursuit of it interests.

Iran’s relations with Russia are also increasingly important in the overall political defenses of Iran. Meanwhile, the gradual increase of Russia’s political, military, and economic power in global affairs, and more recently regionally, has strengthened Tehran. Iran can strengthen its defense diplomacy in the form of cooperation with Russia, according to the Western perspective and in the form of a new doctrine of defense diplomacy. Although there are still different perspectives on Russia’s position in the global system, the commonalities of all these perspectives indicate that Russia’s place in the hierarchy of global power has been steady. Hence, the proximity and defense cooperation between Iran and Russia can be a major achievement for Iran to achieve regional stability and strengthen deterrence.

However, there are two perspectives in the country regarding the relationship with Russia and its evolution. One is that Russia’s approach to Iran is opportunistic, and the Russians only think of their economic-political interests, and in fact they are playing with the Iran card. By contrast, the second view that some believe holds that Russia is a supporter of Iran, but it has its own limitations. It should have had a great deal of expectation from this country. A clear indication of both views is the Russian dualistic approach can be seen in the Security Council’s resolutions on Iran’s nuclear program.

Under the US defense policy and at a macro level, Iran in the Middle East should not be identified as a regional hegemon, while Russia also enjoys a regional hegemony and should be limited within in its formal boundaries. Therefore, Iran and Russia have common goals and interests in controlling the extent of US influence in the region. This means in turn that the logic of close proximity between the two countries will be important from a strategic and political point of view, based on the elimination of the American threat and the expansion of military and defense cooperation to increase the role of both countries. On the other hand, the Persian Gulf states, Pakistan and even Azerbaijan, as the immediate security environment of the country, have made significant deals with the United States and Israel in the field of military capabilities and weapons, which will change the balance of power to the detriment of Iran.

In response to this trend, along with domestic capabilities, the conclusion of military agreements with Russia, the exchange of information, as well as the exchange of military advisers in a regular program to respond these regional interference and challenges by the United Sates seems necessary. Realizing this by defending Iran’s defense diplomacy in the form of a proper understanding of Russia’s future military capabilities and its military and defense capabilities will provide a better prospect for the country’s military commanders to realize the above-mentioned issues.

In addition, these relationships face significant constraints. The strategic choice of Russia and its special ties to the great powers in the framework of the “peaceful development” approach, on the one hand, and the “special” place of Iran in the international arena, on the other hand, open the door to serious restrictions on these relations. But what’s more important than that is a change that is taking place in US politics. This change does not mean structural transformation, but the shift in focus, focus and geopolitics, the degree of US attention to issues, and the way foreign policy discourse is formatted, and the national security and defense strategy.

The most prominent symbol of this transformation is visible in American politics, called the de-consolidation of the Middle East and gravitation towards Asia and the Pacific. As a result, any shift in US strategic priorities and policies toward Asia-Pacific might have a comparative advantage for Iran in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf.

Therefore, it seems that the trends in the security environment of both Iran and Russia are reversed, and as a result, Iran would be in a better position to bargain with Russia. And the conditions in Russia are such that Iran’s defense diplomacy will be relevant to Russia. On this basis, the activation of the country’s defense diplomacy with Russia will be an effective step towards increasing national power.


*Sajad Abedi is a Resident Research Fellow at the National Security and Defense Think Tank. He obtained his Ph. D. degree in National Security from the National Defense University, Islamic Republic of Iran. His research interests pertain to Arab-Israeli studies, Cyber Security studies and National Security.

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