Russia’s Ambassador to Iran Levan Jagarian said on Thursday Russia will continue to cooperate with Iran in all areas, including business and defense, and noted that this will include the nation’s presence in Syria.
“Despite threats from the U.S., I see no obstacles to the implementation of these projects and the two countries’ cooperation will continue in all fields,” Jagarian said in an interview with Russia’s Kommersant daily, according to Iranian state outlet Tasnim News. Jagarian reportedly added that trade and economic ties between the two nations are actively developing. Jagarian also said Russia and Iran are working on the second and third phases of the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant and noted his belief that the United States sanctions against Iran are “totally illegal.”
“Iran is not a country you can push,” Jagarian said. “In our opinion, these sanctions are totally illegal.”
The Russian ambassador also touched upon the Syrian issue – Russia and Iran both cooperate in the country in defense of dictator Bashar al-Assad – and he reportedly described Iran’s presence in Syria as both legal and suggested the Islamic Republic was there on an advisory basis.
“The Iranians are there, as well as the Russian military, at the invitation of the legitimate government of the Syrian Arab Republic and participate in the operation to destroy the terrorists,” Jagarian said.
In May Russia had demanded that Iranian troops leave Syria when the ongoing civil war there ends. Iran rejected the demand. Bahram Ghasemi, spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry said, “As long as it is necessary, the risk of terrorism in Syria exists, and the Syrian government wants Iran to continue its support, we will remain in Syria.” He added, “No one can force Iran to do anything. Iran is an independent country and determines its policies in the region and the world based on its national interests.”
On Wednesday, Ali Akbar Velayati, an international adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, rejected claims that Russia has tried to end Iran’s presence in Syria during an interview with Russian state outlet RT. Tasnim News agency reported that Velayati also said he has not heard anything from Russian officials about Moscow’s opposition Iran’s presence in Syria, or in other Arab countries, which he reportedly also described as being on an “advisory” basis.