by Ramin Mazaheri for the Saker blog

Iran hasn’t invaded a country in over 200 years, and Iranians boast of this fact often, as they should. However, if Iran invaded a country – and of course they will not – I think everyone would agree they should brace themselves for years of Iranian seriousness, self-sacrifice and determination. If the Iranian people agreed war was the only option, then woe betide the aggressor.

I hold Russia to a similar expectation.

Russia doesn’t have revolutionary zeal anymore, that’s true – so why?

Because, like Iran, they have been targeted by the West for years with campaigns based around hate, derision, insults, threats and refusals to believe in mutually-beneficial compromise much less peaceful co-existence. What the West has been waiting for (and what they often try to provoke) is one false step and – BAM!

Maybe their invasion of Ukraine is that false step?

Missing from Western media coverage is the crucial fact that there have been 14,000 deaths in Donetsk and Luhansk since 2014. There’s a reason the war has a 70% approval rating in Russia – they feel it’s already been going on for nearly a decade and that this is the only way to stop it.

Of course, the average Westerner would be apoplectic at such an analysis. The world’s foremost lovers of a free press, allegedly, are suppressing such utterances at an appalling rate. They would call me a Nazi… if only the Russians hadn’t beaten them to it; if only Russians didn’t understandably accuse far-right, Western backed paramilitaries which target ethnic Russians as being so very similar to the Russophobia of Germanic culture nearly a century ago. For Westerners Nazis relate only to Jews and not to 25 million martyred Russians but… well, addressing that enormous misunderstanding is for another column.

Back to Russia and Iran: What’s undebatable is that Russia has obviously given up waiting on Ukraine to implement the peace process. The Minsk Protocol, like the JCPOA for Iran, has thus far been empty promises, or a stalling tactic, or simply fodder to fuel Western Russophobic propaganda, or all three. “What were talks for, then?” This has been said ad nauseam in both Iran and Russia for years – now we are all nauseous at continued suffering in Ukraine.

There’s so much talk these days that “Russia is not Iran”. Really? Russia has the world’s 11th-biggest economy, while Iran is at number 17 – this is an enormous difference which renders comparisons useless?

What’s useless is reading assessments from columnists from The New York Times: calling Russia the “Upper Volta with nuclear weapons,” or saying it isn’t even a medium-size power”. Such are the unrealistic and outdated perceptions of a country which believes it is still the world’s only superpower and by a huge margin, even.

It’s also outdated to call both countries mere gas stations – these are regional economic powerhouses, and regional powerhouses now matter because the United States’ elite shot their country in the foot with Iraq, Afghanistan, the Great Recession, Quantitive Easing, Zero-Interest Rate Policies, etc.

“Russia is not Iran” in the sense that its own version of the Iranian “resistance economy” – and this is essentially what they seem poised to actually implement in response to Western sanctions – should thrive much more than Iran’s because the sanctions are so much less: Sanctions which don’t prohibit oil sales, or the ability to export oil (like insuring tankers), or all Russian banks – why couldn’t Russia work around that?

It’s not “$0 in oil sales” like the West’s failed aim for Iran, but more like “15% less in oil sales” for Russia.

If Russia is really ready to move away from dealing with the West on terms of anything other than equality then they have only one contemporary roadmap and inspiration: Iran. If Russia really does what they are warning then such a move would be another proof of the historical importance of the Iranian Islamic Revolution of 1979, whose primary motto was “Neither East nor West but the Islamic Republic”.

Iran had that prideful motto of self-determination even though – and this is definitely accurate – (1979) Iran was not (2022) Russia. The shah had kept Iran in a poor and backwards condition; when the West (and the USSR, in fact) pushed Iraq to invade Iran in 1980 Iran was absolutely nowhere ready to fight; Iran had no allies, whereas Russia has an “no limits” friendship with a mighty China. Iran had an uphill fight and they started at the very bottom – Russia has an uphill fight and they a view of the horizon isn’t far off.

The success of Iran today can’t be debated – if the West actually re-signs the JCPOA this week it will be because they totally or almost totally accepted Iran’s terms.

If the West doesn’t sign? Well, Russia can ask Iran for advice, and Iran can ask Russia to progress their friendship to one with “no limits” – i.e. put the finishing touches on the 20-year cooperation agreement which seemingly certain to get finalised. I will soon publish a comprehensive article on the “geopolitical game-changer” Chalous gas field which the two nations will exploit.

Russians can take comfort that economic sanctions of this scale can only be enacted once, and that they can do much of what the West says only they can provide if Russians simply put their mind to it. Russia can simply ask around Iran: The sanctions have been turned into a huge boon, ultimately provoking a necessary and irreplaceable windfall of Iranian know-how, capabilities and resilience.

Iran had that prideful motto and the courage to implement it, and Russia has many reasons – reasons both historical and current – to also insist that they don’t need the US, EU, China, Japan or anyone but the unity of the Russian people to build a happy, thriving and peaceful nation.

But that Russia would even embark on such a campaign of resistance and independence – it’s the Iranian example they would be following, the judgment of history will say. This is not a statement of arrogance, but simply identifying a historical trend.

Russia might even do it better than Iran? Go with God – this is always the right move.

Militarily, this war seems to have been effectively over after the first day, when Russia destroyed all of the Ukraine’s air force, navy and air defences. It seems the only way Ukraine could win is by engaging in a multi-year guerrilla war – i.e. if Russia actually occupies Ukraine. Any foreign invasion is the cardinal sin of politics – Russia has to make a very strong case that its actions were the last resort, and it is making its case to a West with totally closed ears.

Iran is used to that as well.

“Russia is not Iran”, of course, but Russia can take a similar path thanks to Iran’s pioneering.

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.

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