By Salman Parviz

Russian forces widen offensive on Ukraine

March 9, 2022 - 11:33

TEHRAN -- Following the sequence of events before the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, it was clear that trouble was brewing in the region.

To give an example, the Russian Foreign Ministry demanded on December 10, 2021, for “legal guarantees” that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization wouldn’t expand eastward. In a blatant disregard, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry announced the arrival of the first shipment of military aid from the U.S. five weeks later, on January 22, 2022.

The hypocrisy of the West’s so-called “free press” in the so-called “civilized world” is frustrating to watch. 

Recall when George W. Bush invaded Iraq on the pretext of weapons of mass destruction in 2003. The whole world was aware that there were no WMDs in Saddam Hussain’s Iraq. But media coverage by channels like BBC or CNN seldom debated this fact.

The news commentators’ cheery faces reporting from Iraq were obvious at the beginning of the invasion when the U.S. military engagement in Iraq went according to the plans. What was supposed to be the “mother of all battles” ensued into mother of all chaos, out of which Iraq still hasn’t recovered some two decades later.

Today we witness similar coverage of wars in Yemen and Syria.

Returning back to Ukraine, the official reaction of the Islamic Republic to this Russian aggression was criticism of the war but blame was put on the West for provocation.

In a televised speech on February 28, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Iran supports stopping the war in Ukraine but blamed U.S. wrong policies for the root cause of the crisis.

Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian stated that Russia’s Ukraine attack was “rooted in NATO”. 

During the last eight years the U.S. created the mess that led to the Russian invasion” Relations between Ukraine and NATO started in 1992. Ukraine applied to begin a NATO Membership Action Plan in 2008. Membership was shelved by Ukraine following the 2010 presidential election in which Victor Yanukovych came out as victor. He preferred to keep the country non-aligned. Following a coup, Yanukovych fled the country in February 2014. 

Foad Izadi, an associate professor at the University of Tehran and a political analyst, commented on the telephone that U.S. politicians, including Senator John McCain, helped bring about the 2014 coup in which a significant number of Russian speaking Ukrainians in the east of the country were killed. “UN data estimates a total of 14,000 people were killed, out of which eighty percent were from eastern Ukraine.”

Izadi added that during the “last eight years the U.S. created the mess that led to the Russian invasion.”

Following the 2014 coup, the interim government of A.Y. Yatsenyuk made NATO membership a priority.

Eventually, a new constitution for Ukraine was written on February 21, 2019 where Ukraine’s membership of the EU and NATO are enshrined.

Cuban missile crisis

Ukraine’s NATO membership scenario has similarities to the 1962 “Cuban Missile Crisis” when the U.S. would not give in to having ballistic missiles pointed in its direction from Cuba, just 90 miles off the coast of Florida. The 13-day standoff between the former Soviet Union and the U.S. had the world at standstill as Washington kept all its forces around the world on alert.

Eventually, good sense prevailed when the two sides reached a deal. The Soviet Union asked the U.S. to remove its Jupiter missiles from Turkey as Soviet territories were within range. In exchange, then Soviet Premier Nikita S. Khrushchev agreed to remove Soviet missiles from Cuba.

Now the threats exchanged by Russia and NATO have taken a dangerous turn as President Vladimir Putin put Russia’s nuclear forces on a high alert status. Amid all the escalating tensions the Biden Administration on March 2 postponed long-range missile test.

During the conflicts’ early stages, Iran Air announced an extraordinary flight repatriating some 100 Iranian students residing in Ukraine via Poland. Iran’s ambassador to Ukraine, Manouchehr Moradi, paid a visit to the shelter of Iranian students still remaining in Ukraine, reported the Tehran Times.

Around the same time the Foreign Ministry rejected closure of Iranian embassy in Kyiv.

Facing a continuous barrage of attacks, including assassinations and unprecedented sanctions, Iran has been looking eastward for trade. Raisi’s recent two-day visit to Russia was to boost bilateral trade. Also on the table during the visit was the renewal of a 20-year comprehensive cooperation agreement that expired in 2021.

Last year Iran announced the 25-year comprehensive strategic agreement with China. This accord will soon enter implementation stage. Amir Abdollahian, in his first visit to China as foreign minister in January, met with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.
Meanwhile, the negotiations on reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear accord (JCPOA) has been dragging on for months, punctuated by a long gap last year with the election of President Ebrahim Raisi. Washington has declared that it will continue to engage with Russia in Vienna over Iran’s nuclear program.

On the impact of this conflict on the JCPOA negotiations, Izadi said: “It is not in the interest of Russia and China to see U.S. sanctions on Iran. We don’t like to see war. Since it has happened it will not have a negative impact on the JCPOA negotiations.”

Economic fallout

Some of the world’s main grain supplies are routed through the Black Sea, which borders both Russia and Ukraine, two major wheat producers. Military action could disrupt both grain production and distribution, raising food costs for consumers across the world.

Russia supplies about a third of Europe’s gas, much of which is currently shipped through Ukraine. Any disruption at either end of that supply chain would force European countries to look elsewhere for fuel, most likely raising world oil prices.

Crude oil prices spiked ten percent up to over $112 per barrel on March 2 and continued to reach more than $125 a barrel on March 7. Most of the Russian seaborne crude exports have become untouchable for buyers following sanctions on Russia.

Reinstating the JCPOA will inject the global market with a new source of oil, pushing the prices in the opposite direction. Another incentive for Western powers to make the needed compromise to reinstate JCPOA.


 

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