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Russia demands US guarantee that sanctions over Ukraine war will not hit trade with Iran

March 7, 2022 at 2:05 pm

United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen hold a joint press conference after their meeting in Brussels, Belgium on 4 March 2022. [Thierry Monasse / Pool – Anadolu Agency]

Russia has demanded written guarantees from the United States that recent sanctions imposed on it will not impact its trade with Iran, disrupting a new agreement on the Iranian nuclear deal that was set to come into place soon.

Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine over ten days ago, the US and other Western nations – including the European Union (EU) – imposed heavy sanctions on Moscow and its government, in an effort to persuade it to stop its military operations in Ukraine.

Those sanctions have reportedly hit the Russian economy hard, with many predicting a financial collapse in the country in the coming weeks as the rouble plummets, and even a global financial crisis.

Food and basic goods, such as wheat are also set to suffer a severe shortage over the coming year, as wheat exports from Ukraine and Russia account for a total of 30 per cent of the world’s total wheat exports.

Amid those sanctions and its predicted effects, Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, demanded on Saturday that the US give a written guarantee that the measures will not affect Moscow’s trade with Tehran.

According to the Russian news agency Interfax, Lavrov told reporters that Russia needs the guarantee to ensure “our right to free and full trade, economic and investment co-operation and military-technical co-operation with the Islamic Republic”. He stressed that “It would have all been fine, but the avalanche of aggressive sanctions that has erupted from the west … demand additional understanding”.

READ: Near completion of the Iran nuclear deal advances Israel’s military option

The Kremlin’s insistence on its ties with Iran comes as the Iranian nuclear deal is set to be revived, after months of on-and-off talks between Tehran and the other signatories of the initial deal in 2015, of which Moscow was one. Towards the end of last week, it was announced and reported that the talks were coming to an end as the final details – such as the lifting of sanctions on Iran and the swapping of prisoners with the US – were being discussed and considered.

Russia’s demands have put a spanner in the progress of the nuclear deal, further delaying its completion as the written guarantee would need to be included as an integral part of the negotiations.

If the written guarantee is given by the US and the sanctions on Russia do not impact its trade with Iran, there is reportedly significant concern by the US that it would leave a huge loophole in the measures that would allow it to recover.

Speaking to CBS News the day after Russia issued its demand, US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, dismissed it as “irrelevant”, saying that the sanctions imposed after the invasion of Ukraine “have nothing to do with the Iran nuclear deal”. The two issues “just are not in any way linked together, so I think that’s irrelevant,” he stressed.

Blinken added that Washington’s commitment to revive the nuclear deal is “irrespective of where we are in our relationship with Russia as a result of its aggression in Ukraine.” He assured that “I think we’re close [to the deal], but there are a couple of very challenging remaining issues”.

“We’ll see where we get in the coming days. But it is really coming down to whether we can resolve a couple of outstanding issues. If we can, we’ll get back on the deal. If we can’t, we won’t,” he said.

READ: Ukraine reminds us not to trust the West or give up nuclear development