August 10, 2022

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Iran indispensable to Russia as gateway to India: analyst

TEHRAN – A geopolitical analyst says that Iran has a pivotal place when it comes to connecting Russia to India.

“The Islamic Republic is indispensable to Russia since transit across its territory links that Eurasian great power with their shared Indian strategic partner, which safeguards Russia’s strategic autonomy in these new international conditions,” Andrew Korybko tells the Tehran Times.

“By functioning as Russia’s gateway to India and vice versa, Iran is positioned to assist both great powers in jointly creating a third pole of influence to help balance Eurasian affairs between the American and Chinese superpowers according to the bi-multipolarity model posited by Indian thinker Sanjaya Baru,” Korybko adds.

Following is the text of the interview:

Q: What’s the relevance of Russia’s relations with other four Caspian countries, especially in light of the Ukrainian conflict?

A: None of Russia’s fellow Caspian countries voted against it at the UN or sanctioned it despite considerable Western pressure upon them to do so. This speaks to their strategic autonomy and state sovereignty, which bolsters their multipolar credentials. The U.S.-led West’s unprecedented sanctions have successfully cut off Russia from the EU, which necessitates Moscow pivoting to the Global South.

That in turn requires it to focus on the southern direction towards the other four Caspian countries, especially since they’re all along the North-South Transport Corridor (NSTC) connecting Russia with India. That South Asian state is Russia’s special and privileged strategic partner, and transit through the other Caspian countries like Iran and Azerbaijan makes their continued real-sector trade possible.

Without India decisively intervening to preemptively avert Russia’s potentially disproportionate dependence on China in response to the U.S.-led West’s sanctions, Moscow might have become Beijing’s junior partner with time, which could have eroded its strategic autonomy. Instead, India was able to prevent this scenario due to the other four Caspian countries keeping the NSTC alive.

Russia now has other alternatives to China in order to diversify its newfound pivot towards the Global South and thus maximize its strategic autonomy, which is only made possible by the Caspian countries functioning as its logistical lifeline to the wider global economy. The Kremlin immensely appreciates this solidarity with its multipolar cause and is thus prioritizing each of them as a top-level strategic partner.

Q:  Do you think Russia and Iran are able to use regional cooperation and alliances to confront Western sanctions?

A: Iran has much more experience surviving under harsh sanctions than Russia does, so the latter can learn a bit from the former, but their situations are also different since Russia is sanctioned much more than Iran right now. Nevertheless, these strategic partners still share the goal of jointly facilitating the emerging Multipolar World Order, to which end they’re comprehensively expanding their cooperation.

The previously globalized world has bifurcated along with three levels since the start of Russia’s special military operation: the systemic one between the U.S.-led West’s Golden Billion and the BRICS-led Global South; the ideological level between unipolar liberal-globalists and multipolar conservative-sovereigntists; and the tactical one between the establishment and populists.

Russia and Iran share very similar views about this, which explains why they’re working so closely together nowadays on all fronts. The Islamic Republic is indispensable to Russia since transit across its territory links that Eurasian Great Power with their shared Indian strategic partner, which safeguards Russia’s strategic autonomy in these new international conditions as was earlier explained.

By functioning as Russia’s gateway to India and vice versa, Iran is positioned to assist both Great Powers in jointly creating a third pole of influence to help balance Eurasian affairs between the American and Chinese superpowers according to the bi-multipolarity model posited by Indian thinker Sanjaya Baru. This is the grand strategic goal that unites those three multipolar leaders in the new era.

 Q:  How do you see the economy of Central Asia and the Caucasus in the future?

A: Both regions have pivotal connectivity potential in facilitating Eurasia’s inevitable integration along North-South and East-West. Along the first vector, the NSTC passes through both linking together Russia and India, while the second concerns China’s shortcut for trading with the EU via those two regions.

If their leaders play their cards properly, then their regions can become Eurasian geo-economic centers of gravity in the emerging Multipolar World Order. For that to happen, they must maximally cooperate with the RIC (Russia-India-China) core of BRICS, which is the economic-financial engine of that aforesaid world order. There are high hopes that the Caucasus and Central Asia will fulfill this destiny.

Q: How do you evaluate the level of Iran-Russia trade? Do you see meaningful development?

A: Real-sector trade continues to lag far behind its potential, but that will inevitably change as a result of Iran serving as the irreplaceable transit state for facilitating Russian-Indian trade, which was earlier explained as having preemptively averted Russia’s potentially disproportionate dependence on China in response to the U.S.-led West’s unprecedented sanctions against it.

That said, Iran mustn’t settle for just being a “Russian-Indian highway”, but must add value to their trade in order to truly benefit from its geostrategic location along this new Eurasian geo-economic corridor. To do that, it might have to rely on Chinese investments considering the 25-year strategic partnership pact they agreed to in spring 2021, which also serves Beijing’s geo-economic goals in Eurasia.

In brief, China is in favor of anything that more closely connects Eurasia, even if it’s a geo-economic axis within which it doesn’t directly participate such as the NSTC or only indirectly participates by having its companies add some value through their Iranian investments along the way. It’ll take time, but Russian-Iranian trade will eventually blossom and enrich the entire Caspian region as a result.

Q: Do you think Iran needs to revive the JCPOA in light of its strategic partnership with Russia and China?

A: It’s always best to reach some sort of agreement with all stakeholders whenever there’s a dispute, but having said that, Iran mustn’t unilaterally concede on issues that its leadership regards as being in their objective national interests. This isn’t just because of patriotism and principle, but also pragmatism since Russia, India, and especially China represent realistic alternatives to Western investment in the future.

That’s not to say that Western investment wouldn’t be beneficial for Iran’s economy in the event that the JCPOA is successfully renegotiated – it most definitely would be welcome and have a positive effect – but just that this mustn’t be an end in and of itself that justifies unilateral concessions on issues of objective national interests but a reward for holding firm on those same interests.

In order of investment importance for Iran, China is certainly at the top followed far off by India with Russia trailing much further. That’s because the People’s Republic has the excess capital as well as construction and management experience while India has comparatively less in those respects and Russia doesn’t really have much, to be honest when it comes to investing in non-former-Soviet states.

Nevertheless, each can play complementary roles in Iran’s geo-economic future, and the Islamic Republic is the only country in the world where each of the RIC countries’ grand strategic interests most directly intersects. For that reason, its leadership must do its utmost to maximize benefits from each of them on bilateral, trilateral, and even quadrilateral bases if possible.
 

Original News : https://www.tehrantimes.com/news/474281/Iran-indispensable-to-Russia-as-gateway-to-India-analyst

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