Will Iran deal influence Ukraine?

Could the Iran deal change, somehow influence American stance towards Ukraine in terms of dealing with Russia as during the negotiation with Iran Moscow has showed that Russia could a reliable partner and FM Lavrov praised the US leadership? Read few comments.

Geoffrey  Pyatt, United States Ambassador to Ukraine

On Iran, it’s very simple. There is zero linkage between our policy in Iran and our policy in Ukraine. Russia acted in its own self-interest to cooperate with us in striking a very important agreement on the Iran matter. In Ukraine we continue to have profound differences over Russia’s continued violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity. And under no circumstances are we going to dilute those concerns in furtherance of some unrelated policy issue.

Yelena OsipovaPh.D. Candidate, International Relations, School of International Service, American University

In fact, I think it’s difficult to give a simple answer to this question. The first issue should be “who in the US” are we talking about, when considering the “American stance”? The Pentagon? The State Department? The White House? The Congress? The public in general? As you probably know, there is a major debate going on inside the country now on the Iran deal, with a lot of opposition coming from many different – expected and unexpected – directions. Those who oppose it do not seem to be particularly interested in international cooperation with other major actors on such matters, which is one reason to think that they would be greatly opposed to any normalization or improvement with Russia, as well, particularly under the circumstances at the moment.

Yet, even if we just take the administration itself (I mean, the White House and the State Department as official representatives of the country), I still do not see how the Iran deal could lead to any improvement on the Ukraine front, because in their minds, these are two very different issues. The US and Russia did have a certain basis on which they could agree and start cooperating regarding Iran. In the case of Ukraine, however, the positions are diametrically opposed, both seeing each other as the primary culprits, having caused the conflict/issue in the first place. Both are proving very insistent on their respective stances and are, at least at the moment, unwilling to compromise. Without any progress in that regard, I’m afraid there won’t be much improvement in the official relationship between the two countries. Achieving this on the broader scale — i.e. among the Congress and the broader public — would be even more difficult, especially in the short run.

Simon Saradzhyan, Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University

I don’t think there will be literally a quid-pro-quo on this.

Russia was primarily acting in its national interest (prevent emergence of new nuclear armed states on its borders) when working in team to secure the Iran nuclear deal.

That said, proponents of a constructive relationship on both sides (US and Russia) are looking for ways to prevent further deterioration in the relationship and the Iran deal has become an useful argument in their efforts. Joint countering of ISIS could become the next avenue for cooperation, but the Ukraine conflict won’t. It is where US and Russian interests diverge. Therefore, I don’t think US is going to soften its position on that conflict because of the Iran deal, though the latter might help to prevent hardening of that position to a certain extent. Much depends on implementation of Minsk-2 deal by 2016. If that happens, it would be an outcome both Washington and Moscow can live with (and so can Kiev), but if it doesn’t (and there’s a good chance that it won’t happen because Kiev and Moscow continue to disagree on what special status for Donbass should exactly entail and whether it should be granted before Ukraine is allowed to reestablish control of border or after), then expect further deterioration of US-Russian relations with or without the Iran deal.

Sean RobertsLecturer in International Relations and Politics, University of Portsmouth

I don’t think the Iran deal will change the situation in Ukraine or help improve US relations with Russia. Russia has proved a reasonably reliable partner in some areas over the past 15 years, in particular counter-terrorism, but this has not prevented a deterioration in relations. Russia is at best a selective partner, cooperating only in those areas that coincide with its own narrow self interest. The same can be said of the US, and the two are not natural partners (they are not natural trade partners, as Russia produces nothing that the US needs). When it comes to Iran, it seems the situation is fluid and unclear and susceptible to revision. However, if the deal sticks, if sanctions are lifted and if Iran comes back into the international fold, then this will spell problems for Russia. It has been well-documented that Iran and Russia, as exporters of oil and gas, compete for the same market share. Moreover, the signals coming from the US suggest that Russia may simply replace Iran as the new pariah state. One market opens (Iran) another closes (Russia). Russia is facing troubled times ahead, and the Iran deal will not improve the situation. The big winner out of all of this – China.

Andrei Kolesnikov, Senior Associate, Chair of the Russian Domestic Politics and Political Institutions Program, Carnegie Moscow Center

In my opinion there is no connection between these two cases. And Iran deal doesn’t mean, that Russian diplomatic corps or political authorities could be good partners in the case of Ukraine or the problems of the world order as a whole. They all depend on the opinion of one institution — president Putin. And he is permanently in irritated and agressive emotional and political condition. I can’t predict any improvement in the relationship between West and Russia.



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