Iran's president: US, NATO provocation root cause of Ukraine conflict
Iranian President Ebrahim Raeisi has warned against attempts to expand the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)’s influence in different parts of the world, blaming the provocative acts of the US and the military alliance that it leads as the root cause of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
“There is no doubt that the US and NATO provocations have
been the factor behind these conflicts [in Ukraine], and therefore it is
necessary to be active in the face of attempts to expand NATO’s influence in
any part of the world, including in West Asia, the Caucasus and Central Asia,”
Raeisi said in a meeting with visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
in Tehran on Wednesday.
He stressed the importance of ending the war in Ukraine as
soon as possible and expressed the Islamic Republic’s readiness to help find a
diplomatic solution to the crisis.
Russia launched a
military operation in Ukraine in late February, following Kiev’s failure to
implement the terms of the Minsk agreements and Moscow’s recognition of the
breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.
At the time, Russian
President Vladimir Putin said the goals of what he called a “special military
operation” were to address Russia's security concerns and to “de-Nazify”
The war in Ukraine has
inflamed tensions between Russia and the West, with the US and its NATO allies
imposing unprecedented sanctions on Moscow and supplying a large cache of
weaponry to Ukraine.
Elsewhere in his
remarks, Raeisi stressed the importance of cooperation among the Caspian Sea
littoral states and said foreign powers are not allowed to have a military
presence in this region.
He noted that constant
meetings and talks between Iranian and Russian officials indicate the two
countries’ firm determination to open a new chapter of fruitful and strategic
cooperation, particularly in the economic sector.
“Strengthening cooperation and coordination is an effective way
to counter US sanctions and economic unilateralism against independent
nations,” the Iranian president said.
Tehran and Moscow both
have huge oil and gas reserves but are constrained by sanctions that limit
their ability to export their output.
Russia was slapped
with sanctions following its operation in neighboring Ukraine, while Iran’s
economy has been under draconian sanctions re-imposed by the US in 2018,
following Washington’s withdrawal from the 2015 accord with Tehran.
During the meeting,
Lavrov said Russia is keen to elevate cooperation with Iran to a strategic
Pointing to the significance of Iran’s membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Russian foreign minister added that his country supports Tehran’s role in regional and international organizations.