Dmitry Shlapentokh

September 2009

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ISBN 1-58487-398-1



Since the late Soviet era, the presence of Iran has

loomed large in the minds of the Russian elite. Their vision

of Iran has been incorporated in the general view of

the Russian relationship with the Muslim world. Soon

after the end of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

(USSR)—and even before—increasing numbers of Russian

intellectuals became disenchanted with the West,

especially the United States, and looked for alternative

geopolitical alliances. The Muslim world, with Iran at

the center, became one of the possible alternatives.

Iran became especially important in the geopolitical

construction of Eurasianists or neo-Eurasianists who

believed that Russia’s alliance with Iran is essential for

Russia’s rise to power. Yet, by the middle of Russian

President Vladimir Putin’s tenure, increasing tension

with the Muslim community and the rise of Russian

nationalism had led to more complicated views of the

Russian elite on Iran. At present, the Russian elite does

not mind using Iran as a bargaining chip in its dealings

with the West, especially the United States, and as a

market for Russian weapons and other goods and

services. However, the dream of a Russian-Iran axis is

apparently abandoned for good.



Strategic Studies Institute



DMITRY SHLAPENTOKH is currently Associate Professor

of History at Indiana University in South Bend.

He is the author of several books and more than a

hundred articles. Dr. Shlapentokh holds Masters’

degrees from Moscow State University (Russia) and

Michigan State University and a Ph.D. in Russian/

European History from the University of Chicago.



The evolution of the Russian elite’s view of Iran is

traced over the past 20 years of post-Soviet history. The

major thesis and outcome are as follows.

1. During most of the late Soviet and post-Soviet

period, two major trends in the approach to Iran have

dominated the Russian elite. The first emphasizes the

strategic importance of Russia’s rapprochement with

Iran and is mostly supported by Russian Imperial Nationalists,

notably those defined as “Eurasianists.” For

these groups, an Iran-Russia rapprochement would

not be a temporary use of Iran as a bargaining chip in

dealing with the West, but a permanent alliance.

The second group believes that Russia should use

Iran as a bargaining chip in dealing with the United

States and as a useful trade partner, but not a permanent

ally. Supporters of this view usually see Russia either

as a self-contained country or as close to the West,

mostly Europe.

2. Eurasianism and similar brands of Russian nationalism

became popular starting in the early Soviet

era, reaching a peak by the beginning of the Vladimir

Putin era. By then, elements of Eurasianism had been

integrated into the ideology of the upper echelon of

the elite, including Putin. Thoughts about a possible,

at least loose, strategic alliance with Iran were also becoming

popular. Yet soon after the beginning of Putin’s

tenure, an opposite trend started to develop, and

skepticism toward Iran and its relationship with Russia

grew. This trend has dominated the Russian elite’s

approach to Iran to the present, regardless of the vacillation

in Russian foreign policy. One might assume

this would dominate the elite’s view at least for the

near future.


3. The changes in the Russian elite’s approach to

Iran—from the assumption that Iran should be a strategic

ally to a more guarded view—are due not so much

to changes in the international situation as to internal

changes in Russia. The more guarded approach to

Iran reflects increasing internal tension between ethnic

Russians, still the majority of the Russian elite, and the

Russian Islamic community. The persistence and likely

increase of this tension is one of the most important

reasons why a Russian/Iranian relationship would be

guarded and pragmatic, barring some unforeseeable

turns of events.

This monograph focuses on the Russian elite’s perception

of Iran and its geostrategic posture. It deals

with the actual implementation of policies only insofar

as this helps elucidate the images of Iran and the ideological

aspect of the Russian/Iranian relationship. The

Russian elite are divided into two major groups.

1. The first level makes decisions or plays a

considerable role in making decisions. It includes the

president, his advisors, influential think tanks, and

intellectuals who basically shape the ideology of the


2. The second level could be defined as the legitimate

opposition. These people criticize the upper ruling

echelon, yet they share some of the premises of the

ruling elite’s ideology or at least believe that policy can

be changed in the future. The ruling elite tolerates them

and to some extent provides them a way of influencing

public opinion and thus influencing the ruling elite’s

decisions. These people have been allowed to occupy

positions in governing bodies such as the Duma and

the Russian parliament; appear on TV; and publish

newspapers with comparatively wide circulation.

The influence of this second layer of the elite is also


enhanced by the wide circulation of their books and

the frequency with which their ideas are discussed in


The monograph considers the dynamics of the

Russian view of the elite and the role of both external

and internal variables in the changes of images. The

role of both sets of variables makes it possible to

gauge the sustainability of this or that trend and make

predictions about the future.





The Goal of the Project.

The goal of this project is to trace the evolution of

the Russian elite’s view of Iran over the past 20 years

of post-Soviet history. This knowledge will help characterize

the elite’s present vision of Iran in the context

of Russia’s geopolitical posture. The major thesis and

outcome are as follows.

During most of the late Soviet and post-Soviet period,

two major trends in the approach to Iran have

dominated the Russian elite. The first emphasizes the

strategic importance of Russia’s rapprochement with

Iran. This view is mostly supported by Russian Imperial

Nationalists, notably those defined as “Eurasianists.”

For these groups, an Iran-Russia rapprochement

should not be a temporary use of Iran as a bargaining

chip in dealing with the West, but a permanent alliance.

The second group believes that Russia should use

Iran as a bargaining chip in dealing with the United

States and as a useful trade partner, but not a permanent

ally. Supporters of this view usually see Russia either

as a self-contained country or as close to the West,

mostly Europe.

Eurasianism and similar brands of Russian nationalism

became popular starting in the early Soviet era,

reaching a peak by the beginning of the Vladimir Putin

era. By then, elements of Eurasianism had been integrated

into the ideology of the upper echelon of the

elite, including Putin. Thoughts about a possible, at


least loose, strategic alliance with Iran were also becoming

popular. Yet soon after the beginning of Putin’s

tenure, an opposite trend started to develop, and

skepticism toward Iran and its relationship with Russia

grew. This trend has dominated the Russian elite’s

approach to Iran to the present, regardless of the vacillation

in Russian foreign policy. One might assume

this would dominate the elite’s view at least for the

near future.

The changes in the Russian elite’s approach to

Iran—from the assumption that Iran should be a strategic

ally to a more guarded view—are due not so much

to changes in the international situation as to internal

changes in Russia. The more guarded approach to

Iran reflects increasing internal tension between ethnic

Russians, still the majority of the Russian elite, and the

Russian Islamic community. The persistence and likely

increase of this tension is one of the most important

reasons why a Russian/Iranian relationship would be

guarded and pragmatic, barring some unforeseeable

turns of events.


This monograph focuses on the Russian elite’s

perception of Iran and its geostrategic posture. It deals

with the actual implementation of policies only insofar

as this helps elucidate the images of Iran and the

ideological aspect of the Russian/Iranian relationship.

The monograph deals with the elite, who are divided

into two major groups.

• The first level makes decisions or plays a

considerable role in making decisions. It

includes the president, his advisors, influential

think tanks, and intellectuals who basically

shape the ideology of the government.


• The second level could be defined as the

legitimate opposition. These people criticize the

upper ruling echelon, yet they share some of

the premises of the ruling elite’s ideology or at

least believe that policy can be changed in the

future. The ruling elite tolerates them and to

some extent provides them a way of influencing

public opinion and thus influencing the ruling

elite’s decisions. These people have been

allowed to occupy positions in governing bodies

such as the Duma, the Russian parliament;

appear on TV; and publish newspapers with

comparatively wide circulation. The influence

of this second layer of the elite is also enhanced

by the wide circulation of their books and the

frequency with which their ideas are discussed

in cyberspace.

The monograph considers the dynamics of the

Russian view of the elite and the role of both external

and internal variables in the changes of images. The

role of both sets of variables makes it possible to

gauge the sustainability of this or that trend and make

predictions about the future.


Sources for this monograph are related to our

definition of the elite. At the beginning of the post-

Soviet era, the mass media were genuinely free and

people in various positions of society could make

their views known, but the situation had changed by

the Putin and Putin/Dimitry Medvedev era. Major

outlets—mass media and increasingly even the Internet,

at least those sources whose servers were controlled


by Russian authorities—had become controlled by the

government. Their very existence indicates that at least

some ideas in the mass media represent the views of

the authorities.

The sources for elite opinions in the Boris Yeltsin

era are more complex due to the existence of several,

often mutually antagonistic, groups of elite. Consider

Yeltsin with mostly pro-Western views and policies

and a Duma dominated by Communists. One could,

of course, argue that Yeltsin had much more power

than the Duma, especially after fall 1993, when he used

violence to suppress the opposition. Yet the Duma was

not entirely powerless at the time of the economic crisis

of 1998—caused by the devaluation of the ruble—and

played an important role in shaping regime policy. At

that time, one could define the elite as not just those in

government circles but also as a variety of intellectuals

and politicians whose views were broadly known and

testified to by the circulation of their ideas in the mass

media, the popularity of their books, and discussions

on the Internet.

As noted above, the Russian elite’s approach

to Iran, how it is seen in the elite’s discourse, has

undergone two major developments. From the end

of the Soviet era to approximately the beginning

of Putin’s presidency, one could see the increasing

influence of the idea that Russia and Iran should be

strategic allies. The opposite trend can be seen from

approximately the middle of Putin’s first term to the

present. The view of the Russian elite toward Iran is

directly connected with the influence of Eurasianism,

the doctrine in which Russia’s relationship with Asia,

and, for some representatives of the creed, Iran first of

all, plays a very important role. Thus, the emergence

and evolution of doctrines, especially in the late and


post-Soviet modifications, play the most important

role for our monograph.


Throughout the last Shah’s regime, Iran was seen

as one of the major American allies in the Middle East,

and its relationship with the Union of Soviet Socialist

Republics (USSR) was rather cold. It is true that after

the Revolution of 1979, the Ayatollah Khomeini

proclaimed that the United States was a “big Satan.”

But the USSR was also evil, though to a lesser degree.

By the time of Mikhail Gorbachev, however, the

relationship was improving markedly, and the trend

continued through the Yeltsin era. And the increasing

popularity of the idea that Iran could be not merely

a customer for Russian weapons and knowhow but

also a strategic ally was intimately connected with the

popularity of Eurasianism, which gained momentum

despite the overall pro-Western, and especially pro-

American, orientation of the beginning of the Yeltsin


The increasing popularity of Eurasianism and

related doctrines can be understood by looking at

the sociopolitical backdrop of the Yeltsin regime.

Gorbachev’s reforms, which soon became translated

into an anti-Communist revolution, had originally

been hailed by the majority of the population as the

pathway to a better future. Western skeptics who

believed that Russia was doomed to authoritarianism/

totalitarianism started to change their minds.1 They

were supported by rising numbers of the late Soviet

and post-Soviet elite, who regarded the weakening of

the state—in the case of the disintegration of the USSR,

the end of the state—as a prerequisite for privatization.2


One might add that while the emerging new Russian

elite was concerned with nothing but wealth—and for

this reason was strongly for continuous privatization—

Western observers assumed that privatization was

needed for making the Soviet and later Russian

economy more efficient.3 The elite, as well as the

general masses, openly proclaimed their admiration

for the West, mostly the United States, and regarded it

as the model to follow.

At the same time, the opposition to the regime—

those who are usually dubbed the “Red to Brown”—

an alliance of Nationalist-minded Communists and

open Nationalists—blasted Yeltsin for the destruction

of the USSR. Their emphasis was not so much on the

socio-economic ills brought by the changes but by the

fact that Gorbachev-Yeltsin had together destroyed

the USSR, the great state, the end result of hundreds of

years of history.4

The emphasis on the imperial mission of the USSR

but not on its social achievements—in the official

Soviet ideology, the USSR had been the beacon for

all the oppressed—could well be seen by the fact that

not Vladimir Lenin, but Josef Stalin emerged as the

major hero of the Soviet era.5 At the very beginning

of the Yeltsin regime, this notion and philosophy were

resolutely discarded, and a strong state, in the Soviet

era and even pre-revolutionary Russia, was seen as a

source of evil and problems for Russian society. But as

time progressed, the idea of the strong state started to

percolate in the minds of the elite and the population.

For the elite, appreciation of the strong state was

mostly due to the fact that privatization was completed,

and the increasing anarchical/criminal aspect of

Russian life not only prevented the elite from holding

its spoils but created a problem even for physical


security.6 The populace was also deeply disappointed

with the changes, but craved stability and increasingly

looked with nostalgia at Soviet life. The growing

appreciation for the strong state as guarantor of basic

order had led to the appeal of a strong authoritarian

leader—the increasing popularity of General Sergey

Nikolayevich Lebed was a sign of this process.7

Appreciation for the strong state also led to the

reemergence of ambition for making the country a

strong power again. Eurasianism provided a geopolitical

model, at least on the level of ideological

discourse, that no traditional Russian model could

offer. Certainly, it was the most viable alternative to

Slavophilism that the Russian ruler actively employed,

either as the sole ideological paradigm or, more often,

the essential ingredient of the geopolitical doctrine that

justified Russian foreign policy and its notion of being

a grand power.

While distinctly different, Eurasianism is still

generically related to Slavophilism, and a short

description of Slavophilism is needed for a full

understanding of Eurasianism. The basic element of

the creed, born in the 19th century, was the assumption

that Slavs, particularly Orthodox Slavs, are endowed

with special qualities due to their special moral and

religious characteristics. Pan-Slavism—evolved from

Slavophilism—saw Russia as the natural protector

of Slavs and the cementing force of Slavic unity, an

idea quite popular among Russian intellectuals in

the latter part of the 19th century.8 This doctrine was

often employed by Russian tsars in the 19th century

and increasingly used by Stalin, especially during and

after World War II.9 By that time, Slavophilism/Pan-

Slavophilism played quite an important role in official

ideology. It provided one of the strongest ideological


justifications for the unity of the Slavic core of the

former USSR and, of course, additional ideological

justification for Soviet domination in East Europe,

which was mostly Slavic.10 Here, the USSR presented

itself as a mostly Russian/Slavic state par excellence.

This construction was part of the ideology for some

members of the Russian elite in the Yeltsin era as well.

One manifestation was the alliance with Alexander

Lukashenko’s Belorussia. Lukashenko was the only

leader of a post-Soviet state who openly lamented the

end of the USSR and wished to unite with Russia. Indeed,

an agreement was signed that supposedly led to the

creation of a unified state in the future. But the alliance

with Belorussia was rather an exception; most Slavic

nations moved in the opposite direction, including

Ukraine, which most Russians saw as an integral

part of Russian civilization due to the similarities of

language, culture, and, of course, historical tradition.

As a matter of fact, traditional Russian historiography

regarded Kiev, capital of Ukraine, as the “mother of

Russian cities.” Still, even at the beginning of Yeltsin’s

tenure, Ukraine wavered between Russia and the West;

and Crimea, with major Russian naval bases, created

additional problems.11

While Ukraine was not sure about its geopolitical

affiliation and a considerable number of Ukrainians

looked at the West, this was even more the case

with Eastern and Southeastern Europe. Not just the

“perfidious Poles,” historically at odds with tsarist

Russia and its successor, the USSR, but even Bulgaria,

historically more pro-Russian and Orthodox, opted

for the West.12 They clamored to be part of the North

Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and then

became much more critical toward Russia than older

NATO members. These East European states—until


recently, all members of the Warsaw Pact—proclaimed

that, regardless of the changes of regime, Russia was

essentially the same: an Asiatic power deeply hostile

to the West. In the emerging spiritual vacuum and in

a search for alliance, increasing numbers of Russian

intellectuals, and members of the elite in general,

turned to Eurasianism—the philosophical and political

doctrine that had emerged among Russian émigrés in

the 1920s.13

Similar to many other creeds, historical, or classical,

Eurasianism is similar to its later modifications. Still,

Eurasianism was a controversial teaching, and one observer

stated with an air of irony that there were as

many “Eurasianisms” as Eurasians.14 Still, Eurasianists

shared some common beliefs. They all assumed that

Russia/the USSR belongs neither to West Europe nor

to the Slavic world but is a civilization in its own right.

At the same time, they discarded the narrow Russocentrism,

especially in its racist version, where Russianness

is defined through biology/blood. Russian

civilization, in their interpretation, is a unique blend of

Orthodox Russians and Muslims, mostly of Turkic origin,

and its borders roughly coincide with the territory

of the former empire of the tsars, later, the USSR. Eurasianists—

and here they also departed sharply from

the vast majority of Russian historians—regard not so

much Kievan Russia (Rus’) but the Mongol Empire as

the true founder of the Russian state.

It was not accidental that Nikolai Trubetskoy, one

of the founders of Eurasianism and one of the most

prominent modern linguists, regards the Russian state

as directly evolving from the Mongolian empire.15

The Eurasianists were also quite different from many

European observers who, throughout the 19th and

20th centuries, while acknowledging the Mongols’


contribution to Russian statehood, saw in it the

damnation of Asianism. The Eurasianist approach to

the Mongols was altogether different. The Mongols/

Tartars were transformed from being one of the greatest

evils that had befallen Russia to its deliverer, and there

was a sharp reevaluation of the Mongol heritage.16 The

Mongols were praised for keeping together the multiethnic

empire and promulgating ethnic, religious,

and cultural symbiosis, and also for giving Russia the

healthy traditions of authoritarian rule and a certain

disregard for the material blessings that were the

driving force for the West. The Mongols, Eurasianists

implied, instilled Russians with “ideocracy,” certain

metagoals unrelated to material interests. The point

is that the elite state created by the Mongols was not

driven by purely economic goals but by some high

spiritual goals; it was not accidental that Eurasianists

emphasized the Mongols’ respect for religion and

their benevolent view of Orthodoxy (one should point

out that both pre-World War II Eurasianists and their

immediate postwar successors regarded Orthodoxy as

an essential aspect of Russian/Eurasian civilization).17

Eurasianists and their ideology were sort of a

derivative or modified copy of Soviet ideology. They

talked about what had happened in Soviet Russia/

the USSR without Marxist-Leninist and later Stalinist

jargon. They actually pointed out that Soviet democracy

was in reality a totalitarian regime closer to the rule

of the Mongols than to anything else. What the Soviet

elite promulgated as “proletariat internationalism”

was nothing but a sort of integration of the various

ethnic groups in a quasi-nation of a sort—”Soviet

people.” The ideology of the regime—at least what it

officially promulgated, the building of communism

and the spread of socialist revolution globally—had


a striking resemblance to religious creeds, including

those preached by Orthodoxy. It was not surprising

that critics called Eurasianists a sort of “Orthodox


Eurasianism was popular among the Russian émigré

community in the 1920s, especially among officers

of the White armies who escaped abroad and émigré

youth. All of them, though rejecting the Communist

regime in Russia, were deeply disenchanted with

Western capitalism. But in Russia proper, it was almost

unknown. Some books and articles reached Russian

readers, but their numbers and influence were quite

limited, especially after the 1930s, when contact with

the West was minimal. Even Lev Gumilev, called the

last classical Eurasianist who lived in the USSR, had

developed his own idiosyncratic form of Eurasianism,

basically independent of foreign influence. Later in his

life, he engaged in correspondence with Peter Savitsky,

one of the movement’s founders, who lived in Prague,

where he had developed the major premises of his

version of Eurasianism. Gumilev was employed as an

academician in the USSR, and, to avoid conflict with the

authorities, focused his research on the early medieval

nomadic people of Eurasia and their interactions with

Russians/Slavs in general.18

Still, Gumilev’s theory was too unorthodox. For

example, following some adherents of “Russian

cosmism,” he believed in direct influence of cosmic

energy on the historical process. And his past—he was

imprisoned for a long time during the Stalin era and

both his parents were repressed by the authorities—

made his intellectual life quite uneasy. He published

very little during the Soviet era, and, while he acquired

a number of dedicated followers, the general public,

even the educated ones, did not know about him and

his ideas.


The situation changed dramatically by the end of

Gorbachev’s reforms when Gumilev became one of

the most popular writers in the Soviet Union and later

in post-Soviet Russia.19 His works, most written or

at least conceived long ago, were published in huge

numbers and have continued to be on best-seller lists.20

His ideas have percolated in the minds of average

Russian intellectuals for all this time. His expression/

definition of “passionarnost” (passionary, passion,

drive) became so popular that it has become firmly

imbedded in the Russian language. Indeed, “His

peculiar vocabulary dominates virtually all history,

ethnology, and ‘culturology’.”21 Even those who had

no idea of Gumilev’s views or of Eurasianism used it.

The popularity of Gumilev could be explained

by many factors. One could, of course, argue that it

was just part of the broad popularity of all writers,

philosophers, and others who were not accessible

by the Soviet public. But this could not fully explain

Gumilev’s appeal at a time when the popularity of this

sort of books had declined. His Eurasianism addressed

the longings of a considerable part of the Russian

population, those disenchanted with the emerging

post-Soviet order with all its vagaries of capitalism, and

increasing alarms that the calamities were brought on

by outside forces.22 In short, Gumilev’s interpretation

of Eurasianism became an essential ingredient of the

ideological alternative to the construction proposed by

the West. Indeed, the domination of Western ideology

in its American interpretation was not complete; and

there was a great deal of resistance to it among a

considerable part of the population.

In this early popularity of late Soviet Eurasianism,

Iran played little role, and the writings of a few

classical/prewar Eurasianists such as Vasili P. Nikitin,


who were interested in Iran, seem to have had little, if

any, influence.23 This ignoring of Iran in late Soviet and

emerging post-Soviet Russian Eurasianism was not

accidental. Not only were both prewar Eurasianists and

Gumilev basically inward-looking, limiting Eurasia to

the territory of the Russian empire/USSR—but the era

of the collapsing empire and regime and the general

feeling of mixed anxiety, hope, and despondency

did not include ventures outside the Soviet, or what

was so recently the Soviet, borders. In this context,

Eurasianism was hardly an ideology of empire. The

stress was on an ideology that provided justification

for the preservation of the USSR or reassembling it in

the near future.

Yet a new version of Eurasianism was emerging.

And for its proponents, Iran became one of the

major elements of geopolitical design, especially for

Alexander Dugin.





Aleksandr Dugin, the son of Soviet intelligence officials,

24 did not receive a formal education, but he had

a gift for foreign languages. Because of his family connection,

he had access to books in “special holdings”

(spetskhran) and similar collections that were not open

to the general public and not accessible to the average

Russian reader. A detailed analysis of the sources of

Dugin’s intellectual development is beyond the scope

of this monograph. But some of the most important elements

should be noted. First was the work of major

20th-century geopoliticians such as Sir Halford John

Mackinder and Karl Haushofer. From them, he picked


up the idea of the fundamental role of geographical

position as the force that defined the nature of the state

and corresponding societies’ political culture and aspirations.

He divided states into maritime and continental

powers, with entirely different political cultures.

Maritime powers developed trade and had economic

interests as the major motivation for their activities.

Continental states disregarded economic interests as

subordinate to a higher goal, to create a great empire,

not seen as a source of enrichment. Here Dugin, of

course, implicitly refers to the USSR. The expansion of

the Soviet empire would bring no economic benefits,

neither for the Soviet population nor for the elite itself.

Conflict between a maritime power and a continental

power is inevitable, and one or the other of them will


The second important ingredient of Dugin’s

philosophy is the European “New Right.” This

fascination with right-wing European philosophers

and politicians has tempted those who study Dugin

to attribute to him all the characteristics of these

diverse groups of politicians and ideologists, and

the differences are often ignored. Indeed, those who

elaborate on Dugan’s interests, his intellectual/

political trends, often equate him with neo-Nazis, or

plainly fascists. There are definite grounds for this

assumption, because Dugin clearly had an attraction

to fascism/Nazism, especially in the early period of

his intellectual and spiritual development. One might

therefore expect Dugin to be a racist, for racism was the

backbone of the Nazi philosophy. Racism, however,

was entirely absent from Dugin’s philosophy. The

“New Right” fascinated him because of its rejection of

the sheer utilitarianism of everyday life in the modern

West, individualism, what he saw as the colorless

emptiness of human existence without a high goal, the


discarding of traditions. There was no place for racism

in this design. Moreover, Dugin implicitly saw racism

as one of the major reasons the Third Reich project

collapsed. Here is where Eurasianism entered the scene,

a philosophy of the great Russian empire based on the

symbiosis of Orthodox Russians and people of other

ethnicities, mostly Muslim, and free from Nazi racist

blunders. In a way, Eurasianism became the central

aspect of Dugin’s outlook because of the internal logic

of his narrative.

Dugin regarded the grand corporate state as the

pinnacle of the historical process. This state dissolves

personal appetites in serving the high interests of the

state, seen as an interwoven fabric maintaining cultural

identity in the form of the “eternal present”25 and

endless expansion. Expansion and war are important,

not only because of the expansion of the imperial

domain, the essential goal of any grand state but also

because war instills society with the sense of sacrifice

and despise of death. War, here, is a great spiritualizer

of society, a sort of religious experience, a peculiar

type of religious rite. Dugin saw this spiritualized and

collectivistic aspect of the regime in the Third Reich

and implied that it could be a model for humanity, a

force that would vanquish the Atlantic civilization of

the capitalist United States, the arch-symbol of evil in

Dugin’s mind.

Dugin sees several reasons for the Third Reich

engagement and ultimate debacle in war with the

USSR/Russia. First, of course, the conniving Atlantic/

maritime civilization dragged potentially friendly

powers—Stalinist USSR and Nazi Germany—into

fraternal conflict, in which the continental Nazi regime

had perished in a geopolitical Gotterdammerung at the

hands of its potential ally.26 But it was not just the


conniving enemies of the continental powers that led

them to brutal conflict. There were serious problems

with the entire Nazi design. The Nazi leaders, at least

some of them, failed to understand that “Aryanization”

is not a racial/biological, but a spiritual/cultural

phenomenon.27 People of the continental landmass

are all pretty much the same in their basic cultural/

spiritual matrix and should be together. And it was in

the USSR, not Nazi Germany, where the “conservative

revolution”—Eurasianists were seen as akin to the

European “New Right”—finally materialized, in many

ways because of the absence of rigid racism and a drive

for healthy symbiosis of all indigenous people of the

Russian/Eurasian space.

In Dugin’s view, the Bolsheviks engaged in

building along the lines of the “New Right” without

understanding it. One should not regard Russian

Marxists as people who followed the traditions of the

West and built a society that was a higher form than

Western capitalism. Marxists in Russia, regardless of

their rhetoric, actually followed or reaffirmed Russian

traditions. In Russia, indeed, the strong power, the high

goal of building the perfect society (communism), and

finally the peaceful coexistence of Russians and various

ethnic groups all embraced traditional Russian/

Eurasian values. Dugin implied that this leap into

the future was confirmation of Russia’s very essence

as a Eurasian power; the country of ever present, so

to speak, conservative revolution; the dreams of a

“New Right”; and similar trends. In a way, the Soviet

regime was structurally similar to the Third Reich free

from Nazi blunders because of its internationalist/

Eurasianist underpinning.28

Thus, the major elements of Dugin’s philosophy

implied the Eurasian nature of the Russian state as

the framework of its historical existence. This Eur17

asian nature was an eternal presence of “conservative

revolution.” It also implied eternal Russian conflict

as a continental Eurasian power, with the United

States as its major enemy. The primordial nature of

the conflict implied that one or the other would be

victorious; the United States would not stop at marginalization

and destruction of the USSR, but proceed

till Russia fell apart. The attempt to destroy Russia/

Eurasia is not driven not by economic interest but by

the desire to homogenize the world according to the

American model. Americanization of Eurasia/Russia

would mean the complete destruction of its civilizational

core. U.S. confrontation was Russia’s inevitable

destiny, but it could not fight alone and needed an ally.

Dugin, contrary to classical 1920s Eurasianists, did not

discard Europe. East Europeans—Slavic “brothers” of

Slavophiles and Pan-Slavists—were discarded as U.S.

proxies, but France and Germany were praised as Eurasian

powers; here of course, Dugin, along with other

Russian pundits, had noted the beginning of discord

between Europe and the United States. Still, with all

his appreciation of those that Donald Rumsfeld would

later dub the “old Europe,” Dugin did not see them as

fully imbedded in Eurasian civilization. Their geopolitical

position, culture, and posture were not always

totally Eurasian; and they could waver.

The story was quite different with Iran. As noted

above, traditional/classical Eurasianists paid little

attention to Iran, albeit there was some interest. It was

of even less interest to Gumilev, who could touch on

in passion. The story was different for Dugin, who

regarded Iran as the staunchest Russian ally outside

the countries of the former USSR, where Kazakhstan

had been Dugin’s darling for a long time.29 Dugin was

quite heartened by the fact that Nursultan Nazarbaev,

who put forward the idea of an “Eurasian Union,” saw


him as possibly the leader of Eurasian unification, at

least in the territory of the former USSR.30 Dugin’s high

expectations from Nazarbaev fit well, in general, for a

friendly relationship between Russia and Kazakhstan.31

While a Eurasian Union with Kazakhstan would

provide the nucleus of the reassembling of the USSR

under the disguise of an Eurasian Union, the appeal to

Iran had implied a much grander design; it revealed

an important aspect of Duginian Eurasianism and, of

course, the segment of the Russian elite which shares


As has been noted, Eurasianism in both its classic

prewar and later “Gumilevian” interpretations basically

saw Russia/Eurasia as a self-contained unity. Russia/

Eurasia was constrained by geographical, cultural,

and “bio-cosmical” limits—at least in Gumilevia

interpretations—and had no desire to spread outside

this geopolitical niche to the outside world. References

to the Mongols implied a sort of quest for global

predominance, but it was rather subdued; the emphasis

was on self-contained Eurasian/Russian civilization.

One of the major reasons why even “Gumilevian”

Eurasianism was not imperial was that Russian

nationalists who wished to see Russia/the USSR as

an imperial power could find a niche in the official

or semi-official Soviet ideology, with its emphasis on

the USSR’s duty “to help” the oppressed all over the

world. This appeal to duty to spread socialism was a

fig leaf for purely imperial designs.

The ideological vacuum after the collapse of the

USSR and, consequently, of Soviet imperialism was

filled with various ideological doctrines, Duginian

modifications of Eurasianism among them. In Dugin’s

view, Eurasianism should lead not just to unification

of the USSR under a new name but to an imperial

web that would make Russia even more powerful


than the former USSR, a match for the “Atlantic” U.S.

civilization. And here Iran’s role was critical. For Dugin,

Iran had emerged as a full continental power that could

fully follow in Russia’s continental tradition, much

different from other Muslim countries in the region,

some of which—such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia—

had become just tools of the Americans.32 From this

perspective, Dugin fully appreciated the Revolution of

1979, which had returned Iran to its tradition. Alliance

with Iran was seen as a key cementing force for the

future. Dugin also assumed that Russia should help

Iran become a nuclear power. His assumption was that

a nuclear Iran would create problems not for Russia but

for the United States, the real threat to both countries.

One can, of course, question the degree to which

these ideas influenced the views of the early Yeltsin

elite. Yeltsin and those close to him at that time were

strongly pro-Western, mostly pro-American. The idea

of the resurrection of a mighty Eurasian empire where

imperial power was a goal in itself was absolutely

foreign, not just on the level of practical actions—which

were actually in the opposite direction—but even on

the level of ideology. It was the Communist-Nationalist

opposition to the regime that promulgated the crucial

importance of the mighty state. And it was not accidental

that Dugin was close to the opposition. He published

articles in the newspaper Den, later renamed Zavtra,

the major vehicle of the “Red to Brown” opposition.

Later, Dugin stated he was close to Communist leader

Gennadi Zyuganov;33 at least he later claimed that he

was on the side of those who wanted to overthrow the

Yeltsin regime in the fall 1993 Moscow uprising. By

that time, Zyuganov was using Eurasianist-sounding

motifs in his lexicon, and Eurasian ideas, including

the importance of an alliance with Muslim countries,


including Iran, could be easily noted in the general

discourse of the Communist opposition.

One could, of course, argue that this should not

be of big interest to the Communist position, which

was extremely precarious after the botched 1993

uprising. There was the feeling that Yeltsin, who had

acquired practically dictatorial powers upon crushing

the opposition and shelling the Parliament building

(the White House), could well put the very existence

of Communists to an end. Moreover, those who had

participated in the rebellion were imprisoned, at least

for a while, and some members of the opposition

were concerned with their physical security. There

were persistent rumors that hundreds of defenders

of the White House had been executed and their

bodies cremated to avoid evidence of atrocities by

the regime. Their reasoning is understandable if we

remember that some members of the revolt intended to

eliminate Yeltsin and his entourage in case of victory.

Thus, the views on Iran of Communists and other

members of the opposition might have been ignored

as rather marginal. However, there was evidence that

Eurasianist-sounding ideas—with the assumption that

Russia was to be a great imperial power with Iran as

an essential ally––had percolated into the public mind

and reached the minds of some members of the Russian


Vladimir Zhirinovsky, for example, became the

leader of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), most

likely the creation of the Yeltsin elite as a way of moving

the electorate away from the still potentially dangerous

Communists. He eagerly exploited a populace increasingly

disappointed with socioeconomic changes.34

Zhirinovsky’s ideology included some aspects of the

Communist paradigm. He argued that Russia should

be an empire much bigger than the former USSR.


The key element of this future grand Russia would

be domination of the south, implicitly in the Iranian

direction. He declared that Russia soldiers will “wash

their feet in the warm water of the Indian Ocean” in his

book The Final Thrust to the South, which highlighted

the importance of Russia’s focus on the south, including

Iran. The phrase became quite popular.35 Zhirinovsky

stressed the importance of access to the Indian

Ocean and lately emphasized pro-Iranian sympathy—

he later published a book on Iran. He implied that a

Russian alliance with Iran should be reinforced with

a similar alliance with Europe—of course seen as

a pro-Russian, anti-American force. Zhirinovsky’s

strong relationship with some of the European right

sounded quite in the vein of Duginian Eurasianism.36

His views could well be regarded as eccentric; in the

future he would make a name as the most bizarre and

unpredictable member of the Russian elite. Still, in the

1994 election just after Yeltsin’s suppression of the 1993

rebellion, he would claim almost a quarter of the seats

in the Duma. This indicated that Zhirinovsky’s ideas,

including the importance of not moving away from

the West but at least counterbalancing the direction of

Russian foreign policy with Eastern/Asian directions,

with Iran as the most important player, was popular.

Whereas a pro-Iranian view, in the context of latent

imperial dreams, so to speak, might circulate among

a considerable segment of the populace and what one

could call the quasi-elite, rapprochement with Iran could

also be seen on a practical level. These practical actions

were not actually related to ideological Pro-Iranianism;

Zhirinovsky, despite his stupendous parliamentary

victory, had a minuscule influence on real politics.

In no way did the Yeltsin regime at that time strive

to move toward Iran simply for the sake of exerting


power. The desire was simple—for cash. The decline

of Russian industry, including weapons production

and loss of funding for science, created a great need

for a market for Russian knowhow, technology, and

weapons. In addition, there was a great demand for

dollars in the face of the precipitously declining ruble.

All this pushed the Russian elite toward Iran, if not

ideologically at least in practical actions.

Russia started to sell sophisticated weapons to

Iran,37 most importantly, the Bushehr nuclear plant

project. The Iranian nuclear program from which

Bushehr would eventually emerge was launched

long ago, even before the Iranian Revolution, and, as

Russian observers admitted, by none other than the

United States. In 1968, the United States provided Iran

with a nuclear reactor.38 The reactor laid the foundation

for more ambitious plans; and in 1974 Iran signed

an agreement with China to address nuclear energy

needs; China also was to help Iran to find uranium.39

Argentina was also involved and signed an agreement

with Iran to build a factory for uranium enrichment.40

A German firm launched the plant building in the mid-

1970s. But, after the Revolution of 1979 and the Iran-

Iraq war, a Western firm abandoned Bushehr, not only

because Iran had become something of an international

pariah but also because it was involved in a bloody war

with Iraq during which Bushehr was bombed several

times.41 With no Western option available, the Iranians

approached the Russians, who agreed to help. The

agreement was signed in 1989, when the USSR was

already near its end—as was clear retrospectively.42

In 1992, soon after the collapse of the USSR, a new

agreement was signed.

While attracted by the prospects of cash, the Russian

elite was reluctant to sign a contract, since it would


clearly irritate the Americans, and apparently there

were second thoughts about actual implementation

of the plans. The emphasis was on the essentially

peaceful nature of Russia’s cooperation with Iran, at

least according to Z. M. Zadonsky, Russian specialist

in Russian-Iranian relations.43 Zadonsky implied that

in both agreements Bushehr was not the issue. It was

only later that Russia started to cooperate with Iran on

other matters.44 As Zadonsky rightfully stated, nuclear

cooperation had nothing to do with an attempt to

create problems for the United States but was driven

exclusively by economic considerations, especially the

desire to create jobs.45 Members of the elite signaled

that they would be happy to forget the Iranian proposal

if they were sufficiently compensated.46 When in 1995

they found out that they would not receive anything

comparable to the Iranian offer,47 they decided to

proceed with the deal.

The construction of Bushehr brought Russia tangible

economic benefits, at least for those employed on the

project. According to some reports, they earned salaries

up to $20,000 per month.48 But the project proceeded

slowly, and problems emerged barely 2 years after

the agreement was signed. Iranian officials stated that

it would pay only after part of the project was done;

Russia insisted that Iran pay first.49 According to

Mark Smith, “Delays in delivering the first plant—first

ordered in the mid-1990s—have been a source of friction

between Iran and Russia.”50 It was not surprising that

the completion deadline was not met. Moreover, there

were signs that the regime wanted to maintain a good

relationship with Washington and preserve Russia’s

image as staunchly behind the West; and the regime

sent a message that it was willing to cool its relationship

with Iran. In 1995, U.S. Vice President Al Gore and


Russian prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin signed

an agreement stipulating the end of Russia’s sale of

Russian weapons to Iran—a thorny problem in the

American/Russian relationship by 2000. Presumably

by that time, the existing contracts would expire, and

no new ones would be signed.




In 1996, when Yeltsin was reelected, the pro-

American, in general pro-Western, course of the

regime seemed fully entrenched. But interest was

becoming evident in the Eurasian model, with Iran

emerging as one of the most important Russian allies

in counterbalancing the United States. There was a

profusion of Russian publications on Eurasianism,

including those that discussed a Russian/Iranian axis.

Interest in Iran, deeply connected with the

assumption that Russia could reemerge as a great

power, could be seen in the ideology of the elite.

There was increasing popularity of the gosudarstveniki

(state builders), those who regard the state as having

great value for Russia. Supporters of this approach

believe a strong state is essential for the stability of

society but also for Russia’s international position. The

importance of a strong state as a way to ensure Russia’s

international position went along with changes in the

Russian/American relationship. On the surface, the

relationship continued to be stable, and the Yeltsin

elite continued to emphasize that Russia was part of

the Western order, all problems notwithstanding. But

there were increasing signs of tension. This was mostly

because, despite earlier promises, the West decided to


expand NATO and include East European states, all

former members of the Warsaw Pact. The idea that a

strong Russian state is needed for potential conflict with

NATO moved from intellectual opposition discourse

to mainstream ideological construction.

This went along with the increasing popularity of

an ideological construction taken by the regime from

the intellectual arsenal of the opposition: that the Cold

War had nothing to do with totalitarian Communist

ideology versus Western democratic capitalism. The

conflict was of geopolitical or civilizational nature, and,

regardless of political/ideological changes, the West

would be hostile to Russia as a foreign civilization. The

assumption went along with similar trends in the West

and the popularity of Samuel P. Huntington’s ideas

about the clash of civilizations. At that point, with

the ideology of the opposition increasingly integrated

in official discourse, Eurasianism became extremely

popular. This could be seen by the profusion of

publications on the subject not just in opposition and

marginal publications, but in respectable academic

journals and influential publishing houses. Above all,

it could be seen in Dugin’s position. From a staunch

oppositionist to the regime as a force deeply hostile to

the resurrection of Russia/Eurasia as the mighty power

and the rebels who were ready to fight the regime in fall

1993, he increasingly moved, if not to the mainstream,

at least to part of the legitimate opposition. He became

an adviser to Duma speaker Genadii Seleznev.

Dugin’s magnum opus, The Foundation of Geopolitics,

became increasingly popular and had new editions.51

The introduction was authored by General Nikolai

Klokotov, and the book was used as a textbook at the

Academy of General Staff. Dugin received access to


television and mainstream publications and continued

to publish in many media, including books.52 He had

a teaching job in the so-called New University, and

later published his lectures.53 In all his writings, Iran

emerged as the ally most essential for Russia’s future


Similar views were broadly held by Nationalistminded

elite members who, though in opposition to

the Yeltsin regime, continued to occupy important

positions in various segments of Russian society. For

them—they could be defined as imperial Nationalists—

Russia as a great power was the most important plan

for the future. Indeed, some top Yeltsin advisors

proposed an alliance with Iran as most important

for Russia’s future as a great power.54 Most of them

thought in purely geopolitical terms, seeing Russia in

mortal conflict with the West, especially the United

States, regardless of political makeup.

General Leonid Ivashov, a three-star general

who had occupied an important position on Russia’s

General Staff and who was responsible for the

relationship between the Russian army and the outside

world, thought in geopolitical terms, quite close to

Eurasianism. Ivashov had started his military and

intellectual career long before the dramatic changes

that befell the USSR, and continued to be very much

a part of the military establishment.55 Gorbachev’s

reforms and the increasing instability in the country

hardly pleased Ivashov, and the end of the USSR was

clearly a great tragedy for him. In the fateful days of

the August 1991 coup, his heart was with Marshal

Iazov, the USSR Minister of Defense, who with other

members of the GKChP tried to save the Soviet Union

from disintegration.56


On the emergence of post-Soviet Russia, Ivashov

joined the opposition to the pro-Western Yeltsin regime.

At that point he and other members of the nationalistic

opposition fell under the influence of Eurasianism, and

the influence of that doctrine and general geopolitical

point of reference could be easily detected in his works

in the late Yeltsin period.57 A general acquaintance with

Dugin, who by the end of the Yeltsin era was trying to

forge a relationship with the military brass, possibly

also played a role in instilling Ivashov’s mind with

elements of Eurasianism and geopolitical thinking.

Dugin even claimed after his relationship with the

general cooled down that Ivashov had plagiarized

some of his works.

Although Ivashov’s general views and his approach

to Iran did have many similarities to Dugin’s, they

were not identical. Ivashov believed that the Russian

Orthodox civilization was totally different from that

of the West. The point was not geographical position,

as was the case for Dugin, but that the geopolitical

was interwoven with other explanatory models, some

of them rooted in traditional Slavophilism. Thus, in

Ivashov’s view, the point of the difference with the

West is that Russia is a collectivistic and spiritualized

civilization with a deep appreciation of other cultures

and a deep sense of justice. This moved it closer to

other civilizations whose civilizational matrix was

similar to that of Russia. This was the case with most

Asian civilizations, Muslim civilization among them.

Iran emerged here as a natural ally.

Ivashov, who had visited Iran several times in

various capacities, was a staunch supporter of close

ties. This support brought him quite close to Dugin,

but their views were not identical. Ivashov visualized

a Russian/Iranian alliance as a part of an alliance

with other countries, including China. Here, Ivashov


could, of course, appeal to considerable changes in the

Russian/Chinese relationship. The hostility between

China and Russia was essentially over after Gorbachev’s

trip to China in 1989, and, during Yeltsin’s tenure,

the relationship improved steadily. China became a

major customer for Russian weapons. Dugin’s views

on China were much more guarded. He recognized

China’s importance as a counterbalance to the United

States, and from this perspective China was a potential

ally. But Chinese/Russian rapprochement could be

only temporary; a lasting alliance was excluded due

to the danger of China’s demographic expansion.

Here, of course, Dugin addressed the fear among the

Russian populace and elite, who pictured China as

potentially engulfing the Russian Far East and Siberia

with a flood of émigrés. Iran created no such problem.

Another advantage of Iran was that, whereas China

increasingly viewed Russia as declining, the Iranian

elite saw Russia as an equal or even stronger power.

There were other differences in Ivashev’s and

Dugin’s views as well, mostly related to Western

Europe. Dugin regarded Germany and France in

particular, as potentially solid Eurasian powers that

could be firmly on the side of Russia. He had quite a

positive view on the European “New Right,” with its

often-strong anti-Americanism. He fully supported

their views about Europe spreading from Reykjavik to

Vladivostok, as a unified geopolitical entity directed

against the only true enemy—the United States. Here,

of course, Europe was seen not as a geographical but

as a geopolitical cultural entity. Ivashov had a different

opinion, rooted in his Soviet background: Western

Europe, Germany, and France, part of NATO, were

historical enemies of the USSR/Russia. Yet with all

their differences, Ivashov and Dugin shared a vision

of Iran as a major Russian ally, the principal tool for


transforming Russia again into a major global power.

One might add here that the Communist views

on the global geopolitical picture were essentially the

same. And one could assume that by the second part of

Yeltsin’s regime, the Communists had been transformed

into corporate Nationalists, and Marxism-Leninism

had almost disappeared from public discourse even

as a fig leaf. Communist views on Iran were quite

similar to those of Dugin’s Eurasianists and Ivashov’s

Imperial Nationalists. Iran seems to have increasingly

loomed large in the minds of not just the opposition,

still entrenched in the army, state, and educational

institutions, but also the mainstream elite, as the most

important ally that would make Russia a great power

that would challenge Pax Americana.

The idea of a mighty alliance of Russia and

Iran had become increasingly popular among the

well-entrenched opposition, or, to be precise, semiopposition—

remember that such people as Ivashov

had occupied an important position in the army

and similar institutions—but one should question

the practical implications of a grand scheme. These

implications were quite limited, even on the level of

official ideological discourse. The official Kremlin

message was that Russia was, of course, upset by

NATO’s expansion and demanded that Russia should

be recognized by the West as a great power among

equals, with the right to engage in foreign policies of

great powers. Yet it was emphasized that Russia still

regarded itself as part of the concert of Western powers

and cherished being a good U.S. partner.

The relationship with Iran was presented as a purely

commercial arrangement. Selling weapons to Iran was

presented in the same way as for China, also described

as a purely commercial deal with no direct intention of

transforming China into a counterbalance to the United


States. In practice, the Russian relationship with Iran

was also rather limited. Russia continued to drag its

feet on the completion of the Bushehr nuclear plant.

Thus, one can see a sharp difference between

ideological discourse and real action. Statements

about Russia’s might, its unique Eurasianism—which

made it possible to create a great alliance—became

quite pronounced, but actual decisions in the direction

of these alliances were lacking. Indeed, the notion of

building a great Russian/Eurasian empire in which

imperial might is a goal in itself was absolutely foreign

to the mentality of the Russian nouveau riches. They

could use the imperial lexicon in public parlance, but

in their real activities they were driven exclusively

by economic interests. These interests were deeply

connected with the West. It was the West where they

transferred their capital, buying real estate and making

other investments. They regarded the West as a refuge

in case the situation in Russia went awry—and the

chance of a Communist revanche was not discarded

until the very end of Yeltsin’s tenure. One could state

that the possibility of Communists taking power

was not groundless after the default of the financial

institutions in 1998 that led to the sharp devaluation

of the ruble. Furthermore, neither financial tycoons

nor Yeltsin’s close circle, known as “family,” saw

NATO expansion toward the Russian border as a real

plan to attack Russia, despite the endless warning of

Nationalists and, of course, Communists about such a

threat. The upper echelon of the elite were afraid not

of an unexpected attack from the West but of a threat

of quite a different nature. They were afraid that there

might be some unexpected outburst from below,

similar to the events of 1993, which they would not be

able to quell. And for this reason, they continued to

look at the West as a safe haven in case of calamity.


The West was the place where they could move and

where they had already made preparations for a safe,

comfortable landing—accounts in foreign banks, real

estate, and similar undertakings. For this reason, they

never totally embraced, at least publicly, Nationalist/

imperial philosophy, including that idea of a Russian/

Iranian axis. Even less could this move be traced in real





The NATO/Serbian War led to an abrupt change

in the elite view in 1999. This event would play a

considerable role in the Russian elite’s thinking and

various geopolitical gestures, including the approach

to Iran.

As noted earlier, the Nationalist/Communist

opposition to Yeltsin’s regime and his generally pro-

Western policies repeated endlessly that the West was

still deeply hostile, and that the friendly smiles and

handshakes of Western leaders were the deceptive

cover of predators. This statement was ejected by

the Yeltsin elite as essentially nonsense, despite its

increasing unease with the expanding NATO. NATO’s

attack against Serbia, which most Russians, regardless

of political affiliation, saw as a friendly Orthodox

Slavic country, was a big shock, even for pro-Western


At this point, the idea that the West could,

indeed, strike Russia became not just an assertion of

opposition or semi-opposition but one held by at least

a considerable part of the mainstream. A clear sign of

the sharp decline of Western/Russian trust was the

dramatic action of Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov,


who turned his plane around in midair enroute to

the United States to negotiate a loan. A dramatic

reorientation of Russian foreign policy was apparently

discussed at the very top, and the Asiatic direction was

seen as quite visible. Indeed, Primakov entertained the

idea of a broad geopolitical axis that would include

Russia, China, and India, and that was regarded by

some Russian pundits as a sort of crypto-Eurasianist

axis. While Iran was not named as a potential part

of the axis, it was implicitly present. Primakov was

trained as a Middle East specialist and would have a

professional interest in the Arabs and Iranians. The

ideas of Eurasianism and Imperial Nationalism of the

Ivashov type seemed to be the ideological foundation

of the regime after Putin’s assent to the presidency in





From the very beginning of his tenure, Putin

proclaimed that building a strong state and restoring

Russia’s worldwide standing were his major priorities.

He quickly consolidated his power by increasing

Moscow’s control over the provincial governors, who

had often behaved as almost independent rulers by

the end of Yeltsin’s regime. He also clipped the wings

of some financial tycoons, putting some in prison

and driving others to emigrate; this dramatically

increased his power over the remaining moguls

who had amassed enormous wealth through shady

deeds and had considerable political clout during

Yeltsin’s presidency. Putin’s foreign policy initiative

was also conspicuously Asian-oriented and aimed to

demonstrate that Russia again was a major power. For


the first time since the late Soviet era, power was seen,

or at least projected to the public, as a goal in itself, not

just a way of getting this or that material benefit. The

Eastern direction acquired new importance and was

portrayed to the global community and the Russian

public as an attempt to restore Russia’s position as

a great power, not just to get economic benefits and

leverage in dealing with the West.

One of the manifestations of this “turn to the East”

was Putin’s 2000 visit to China where he signed a

treaty that appeared to some Western observers as

almost a military alliance. Putin also made trips to

North Korea and Cuba in 2000, all three countries

sworn enemies of the United States. In this new,

apparently solidly Eurasian policy, Iran appeared as

an important building block. The most dramatic action

was scrapping the Gore-Chernomyrdin agreement and

full resumption of the sale of sophisticated weapons

to Tehran. The prospect delighted the Iranians, whose

delegation to Russia proposed much closer ties and

the transformation of Iran into a major customer for

Russia’s military hardware. One could assume that they

were not alone in welcoming Putin’s anti-American,

implicitly Eurasian posture.

North Korea and China were both glad to play the

Russian card at a time when the U.S.-China relationship

demonstrated considerable tension. Indeed, at that

time, a U.S. reconnaissance plane was forced to land

in China; and considerable effort by Washington

was needed to gain its release. A clear Eurasian/

National Imperial geopolitical posture—with Iran

and other Asian nations as essential elements of the

design—seemed to confirm the regime’s benevolence

to ideologists and groups that were still in the shadow

of the past or out of favor.


Yevgeny Primakov, the crypto-Eurasianist with

the grand plan for an Asian axis and sacked as Prime

Minister at the end of the Yeltsin era, had been returned

to the top of the political Olympus as a geopolitical guru.

While some of the “Red to Brown” were disappointed

that Gennadi Zyuganov had not become president,

Aleksandr Prokhanov, editor of Zavtra, was fairly

pleased with Putin. Originally, he saw little difference

between Putin’s geopolitical designs—forging a

Russian/Iranian axis seemed to be an important

element––and those of the Communists. Prokhanov

was much disappointed with the Communists, who did

not dare face Yeltsin openly. The love affair between

Prokhanov and Putin had been strengthened when

Prokhanov was invited to the Kremlin for conversation

with a new Russian leader who, Prokhanov believed,

would make a decisive step toward returning Russia

to its former greatness. Imperial Nationalists with

their Eurasianist proclivities and views, not much

different from those of the majority of Nationalists,

were also originally heartened. Ivashov was surely

among those originally optimistic in regard to Putin,

for he undoubtedly believed that Putin, ex-KGB

member, would move in the direction of transforming

Russia into a great imperial Eurasian power.58 If no

such push were done, Russia would fall apart, with

borders possibly reduced to those in the 15th and 16th


Most important for the Russian elite’s approach to

Iran was Dugin’s position, for he was the most ardent

advocate of a Russia/Iran permanent geopolitical

marriage. Dugin was extremely excited by Putin’s rise

to power, and his vision of the post-Yeltsin era was

certainly shared by others. It was a craving not just for

strong power that would end the criminalized anarchy


that had created problems for all Russian society—elite

and masses alike—but for bloody vengeance. These

feelings were especially popular among the masses,

most of whom regarded post-Soviet development as a

sheer disaster that made it possible for a few nouveaux

riche to amass enormous fortunes but drove the

majority to misery. This sense of social injustice was

deeply interwoven with the sense of the collapse of the

USSR—the mighty Eurasian state. This nostalgia was

shared not only by the “Red to Brown” folk, as at the

beginning of the Yeltsin era, but by a much broader

segment of the population. People wished for a sort

of a bloody catharsis of rejuvenation, which would

lead not only to the restoration of social justice, but

also to the restoration of the Russian state to that of its

legitimate place in the new world order.

Dugin fully supported this view of the emerging

Putin regime and prophesied that Putin would soon

engage in a gothic type of repression against those

responsible for the destruction of the USSR. This

transformation would lead to a web of Eurasian

alliances, with the Russia-Iran axis one of the most

important parts. Dugin believed he was the one who

would provide the regime with intellectual guidance,

and it seemed his dreams were about to materialize.

The regime sent him encouraging signals. He continued

to advise Gennady Seleznev, “the speaker of the State

Duma from 1996 to 2003,” and became “chairman

of the Geopolitical Expertise Section of the Duma’s

consultative National Security Council. His Center for

Geopolitical Expertise and his lectures at the Military

Academy of General Staff has earned him financial

support from military circles.”60


Dugin had quickly transformed his Eurasian

movement into a party. This could not be done without

at least indirect encouragement from above. The

Congress and party organization required considerable

funds and presumably the blessing of a friend in the

Kremlin; most likely, direct financial support made

it possible to engage in the venture. The change in

Dugin’s fortune could be seen even in the appearance

of his office. When the author of this piece saw him

in the 1990s, Dugin had an office in a small room in

the building of one of the small Moscow libraries.

At the beginning of Putin’s tenure, I met Dugin in a

spacious office with Putin’s portrait on the wall. Dugin

also continued to publish prolifically.61 He believed his

hour had come and that he, possibly with other similar

intellectuals, would be the major ideologist of the

regime. This position seems to have been ensured by

Putin’s visible attachment to Eurasianist ideology, for

example, his praise of Gumilev as “the great Eurasianist

of our time.”62 Quite a few other observers shared this


Yet even at that time the major modus operandi of the

regime was beginning to reveal itself, demonstrating

that while the ideological entourage of Putin’s

regime looked different from Yeltsin’s, the practical

implications revealed much consistency. The imperial

East-oriented ideology and some appropriate actions

were combined with quite different postulates and

deeds. First and most important, ideological toughness

and imperial language were not always translated into

practice. Second, even the ideological stance was not

always consistent, including that related to Iran.63 To

start with, while engaging in arms sales to Iran, Putin

refrained from selling anything that could be used to

make Iran nuclear and made it clear that Russia would


not engage in a military confrontation with the United

States. Moreover, Russia’s imperial posture and turn

to the East coincided with an equally vigorous turn

to the West, particularly the United States. After the

September 11, 2001 (9/11) attacks, Putin was the first

world leader to offer help to President George Bush,

and fully acquiesced to American bases in Central


The Western direction continued even after the

American invasion of Iraq and promulgation of the

“neocon” doctrine that justified striking wherever the

United States found it necessary to fight terrorism, or,

to be precise, to defend its national interests. The strike

was almost as unsettling as the Yugoslavia/Serbia

war 4 years earlier. Yet at least at the beginning, it

pushed Russia closer not to Asia, but to Germany and

France. The appeal to these countries seemed not to

derail Eurasian geopolitical designs. Indeed, for quite

a few post-Soviet Eurasianists, or neo-Eurasianists,

France and Germany were part of Eurasia. Dugin, for

example, assumed that an alliance with France and

Germany could well reinforce a Russian-Iranian axis.

Still, a decisive turn to Europe was not reinforced by a

decisive turn to Iran.

The Russian turn to Europe indicated that its

Iranian/Asian-oriented foreign policy was not consistent

even at the beginning of Putin’s tenure, when

Eurasianists/Imperial Nationalists apparently had

a strong influence in the Kremlin and were able to

translate some imperial paradigms into practice. Even

less did the idea of consistently embracing Iran in a true

geopolitical marriage, not for fleeting and pragmatic

interests, became popular.

Before moving to the second part of this monograph,

which covers the later stages in making the Russian/


Iranian relationship, some conclusions should be

made. The Russian approach to Iran, especially in the

late Soviet/early post-Soviet era, was firmly imbedded

in Eurasianism and similar doctrines. Historical

Eurasianism paid little attention to Iran; it was basically

the philosophy of a self-centered Russian civilization

shaped in the tsarist and Soviet periods. The later

modification sees Iran as crucially important. This

form of Eurasianism blended with similar doctrines to

see greatness as an essential aspect of Russian destiny

and Iran as an essential part of the web of alliances that

could make Russia a grand empire once again, not as a

means to get this or that benefit but as a goal in itself.

Iran was a true ally Russia should support, regardless

of cost, in the same way the USSR had treated its allies

during the Cold War era when it forsook material gains

and was ready to risk a major war with the United

States. Alliance with Iran did not exclude alliances with

other powers, for example, West and Central European

states, but the gravitation toward Iran implied that

Russia still sees itself as more an Asian than a Western


Note that at that period, despite imperial, anti-

Western, and especially anti-American rhetoric,

Eurasianism/Imperial Nationalism had never dominated

the Russian elite’s ideological discourse and rarely

led to practical action. But this paradigm has been

on the rise since the late Gorbachev era and, though

facing the competition of another approach to Iran—

to be discussed further—it will not disappear. As an

important ideological layer, it exists in the minds of

the Russian elite, but it will be challenged and shaped

by other ideological trends. A major trend, increasing

suspicion and pragmatic opportunism toward Iran,

was quite opposite to imperial self-abnegation for an


ally’s interests. There are many reasons for this more

pragmatic approach. However, in our view, the major

one was not so much external as internal, the increasing

tension of historically Orthodox ethnic Russians and

Russian Muslims of various ethnic origins.


The Imperial Nationalistic and Eurasian model

regarded Iran as Russia’s foremost ally and assumed

that Iran’s allies would be necessarily Russia’s allies.

The major threat would come from the West, mostly

the United States. This threat aimed to conquer Russia

the same way as had been done over the centuries

from the Mongols to Hitler. Russia’s alliance with Iran

and similar friendly, mostly Asian, powers would

prevent this from happening. Iran was seen not as just

essentially similar by culture and tradition to Russia—

the Yeltsin regime was not seen as an affirmation of

the country’s real nature and destiny and would be

replaced in the near future—but also as an advanced


Those who saw Iran as a backward nation—a

symbiosis of the worst of Soviet totalitarianism and

the Middle Ages—proclaimed that Iran had nothing

to do with Russia. In this interpretation, Russia is

seen as a Western country and the Soviet period as

an aberration. Even those who saw totalitarianism as

deeply rooted in the country’s history assumed that

this tradition could be overcome, and Russia could

reinvent a new political and cultural trend and join

the West. This was the view of Russian Westernized

liberals in the late Gorbachev/early Yeltsin era. But

their influence declined steadily at the end of Yeltsin’s

tenure and the beginning of Putin’s. The pro-Iranian

view appeared to have become more and more


popular among the Russian elite. Yet by around the

middle of Putin’s presidency, a new trend challenged

Eurasianist and Nationalist Imperialist views on Iran.

It was caused by the rise of tensions between Russians

and Muslims of various ethnic backgrounds and the

corresponding crumbling of the notion of Eurasian

“symbiosis” between Orthodox Slavs and traditionally

oriented Muslims both inside and outside Russia.

The problems of Russian Muslims and the Muslim

world in general were not in the forefront of either

conservative Eurasianists or Imperial Russian Nationalists

in the beginning of the post-Soviet era. For Russian

liberals, Russian Muslims and the Muslim world

were the backyard of the global community dominated

by the West and led by the United States. Eurasianists

and Imperial Nationalists, while regarding Muslims as

brothers of ethnic Russians, usually relegated them to

the role of “younger brothers.” Ethnic Russians were

the leaders. The Muslim parties in the last years of the

Soviet era and the beginning of the post-Soviet era

were minuscule in their influence, and even the most

influential and lucky ones could, at best, get a few seats

in the state Duma.64 But problems with the Muslim

community started to emerge, first from the Northern


The war in Chechnya, later spreading to other

regions of the Caucasus, was originally seen by

Eurasianists and Imperial Nationalists as a product of

the West, mostly the United States,65 which, by using

the proxies Turkey and Saudi Arabia, created trouble

for Russia. Putin came into power after the spectacular

1999 apartment building explosion in Moscow, where

several hundred people died instantly. The real cause of

this terrorist attack is still unknown, and some observers

believed that it was actually organized by the Federal


Security Service (FSB)—the Russian secret police,

successors to the Komitet Gosudarstvenoi Bezopasnosti

(KGB). But events were presented to the Russian public

as the handiwork of Chechen separatists who blatantly

violated the Kasavyurt Agreement signed by General

Alexander Lebed in 1996.

The response, the beginning of the Second Chechen

War, provided Putin, at that time just blessed by

Yeltsin as president, an essential image of a tough

man who protected Russians and Russia. This image

was interwoven with Putin’s image as someone

who not only protected the average Russian but also

understood the populace’s needs. Putin’s statement

that he would “Bump off (mochit’) terrorists even in

the toilets” became famous. The fact that Putin used

the world “mochit,”—literally, “make wet,” the lexicon

of the criminal underworld—increased his popularity.

In the growing criminalization of post-Soviet Russia,

a criminal lexicon permeated all segments of society,

and using criminal argot indicated to simple folk that

Putin was the same as they were and could be trusted.

And, of course, this projection as the protector of the

populace was interwoven with other aspects of Putin’s

early promise to return Russia to the position of a great

power, to “lift from her knees.” The attack against the

Chechen resistance was implicitly connected with

anti-Western rhetoric, for the Chechens were seen as

U.S. agents and proxies. The beginning of the Second

Chechen War was quite successful for Putin. After

much fighting and relentless bombing of Groznyi,

the Chechen capital, the insurgents were driven to

the mountains. However, as time progressed, the

North Caucasian resistance increased the ferocity

of its attacks—the beginning of Putin’s presidency

was marked by two spectacular attacks in Nord-Ost

(Moscow, 2002) and Beslan (2004).


The jihadization of the movement also increased.

Some anti-American pundits still attempted to connect

the jihadists with the United States. Dugin claimed

that the jihadists were the product of the American

“Atlantic” civilization, and that they were quite similar.

Both jihadists and Americans wanted to homogenize

the entire world and had no respect for cultural

diversity. But it became increasingly clear that the fact

that jihadists were Russia’s enemy did not make them

U.S. friends. Moreover, by 2007 the North Caucasian

resistance had finally transformed itself into an al-

Qaida type organization—hostile to both Russia and

United States—and marginalized the more moderate

Nationalists led by Akhmed Zakaev.

The North Caucasians were hardly the only

emerging problem. Other members of the Russian

Muslim community demanded redistribution of power

and wealth for their benefit, and increasing numbers

of Russian Muslims—this is a major differences from

previous eras—had no intention of assimilating.

Indeed, when Dugin created his own Eurasian party, a

similar party was launched by Abdal Wahed Niiazov,

a Muslim, and according to some rumors a Russian

convert, whose real name was Vadim Medvedev.66

Niiazov’s Eurasianists supported Eurasian “symbiosis,”

but proclaimed that Russian Muslims should be the

equal, not just “Younger Brothers,” of Russians.

This stress on the paramount role of Muslims of

various ethnic origins, with personal dislike, led to

bitter confrontations.67 In 2005, some influential Muslim

clergy proclaimed that the Russian coat of arms, which

represented St. George slaying the dragon, should

be removed because it is a purely Christian symbol

that could be offensive to Russian Muslims, and that

religion and state should be officially separate in Russia.


A Russian observer, however, noted that the concern

over St. George had to do not with Christianity but

with the redistribution of power in Russia. This claim

was rejected with disgust.

The crumbling of the idea of Eurasian “symbiosis”

that relegates Russian Muslims to the position of

“younger brothers” could be further demonstrated by

Dugin’s fate. He continued to be a prolific writer and

fashionable intellectual, but his position as policymaker

who played a significant role in shaping the country’s

agenda collapsed. He not only was unable to get a

Duma seat but was actually expelled from his own

party. The party itself was transformed to the Party of

“Eurasian Union” (Partiia “Evraziiskii Soiuz”).68

The new sans-Dugin Eurasianists were led by Petr

Suslov, an ex-intelligence officer. (The “Eurasian Union”

party has not existed for a long time and seems to have

disappeared without a trace.) Niiazov Eurasianists,

who emphasized “symbiosis” on more favorable

terms for Muslims, did not fare much better. To have

broader appeal, the Niiazov Eurasianist Party was

integrated in a form of electoral alliance with a broader

block: the Great Russia-Eurasian Union (Velikaia

Rossiia-Evraziiskii Souiz).69 But the party faded from

sight, and Niiazov became marginalized in political/

quasi-political play. All this indicates that not only are

increasing numbers of ethnic Russians not attracted

to any variation of “symbiosis,” a sort of trans-ethnic

identity of power-sharing with Muslims of various

ethnic origins, but Russian Muslims are increasingly

skeptical in regard to still dominant ethnic Russians.

Various modifications of Eurasianism are increasingly

replaced by constructions where Russians have no

place in an ideology resting on ethnic nationalism or

universalistic Islamism.


The most essential aspect of the ideology of

increasingly assertive Russian Muslims, at least for our

study, is their generally positive view of Iran. The views

of Geidar Dzhemal, a prominent Muslim ideologist

in Russia and Chairman of the Islamic Committee of

Russia, could serve as an example. Dzhemal was an

ethnic Azerbaijanian who started his intellectual career

as a close associate of Dugin. Both were intellectually

shaped by the semi-underground Bohemian circle of the

extravagant writer Yuri Mamleev, fond of descriptions

of the most bizarre forms of sex and violence, “who

emigrated to the United States in 1974.”70 Dugin also

noted that Dzhemal, the older, had been an intellectual

mentor to him. Like Dugin, Dzhemal originally believed

in Russian/Muslim “symbiosis” and was strongly

against Yeltsin. He thought the regime had perverted

Russia’s true Eurasian nature and transformed the

country into a powerless U.S. appendage, and he

put his trust in the “Red to Brown” opposition. Yet

as time progressed, Dzhemal’s views increasingly

differed from Dugin’s. He began to reject the Eurasian

paradigm in which historically Orthodox Russians

either explicitly or implicitly retain the role of “older

brothers” to Muslims in geopolitical arrangements.

For Dzhemal, Ethnic Russians and Russian Muslims

should be equal in the new, post-Soviet Russia, and

Russian-European ties (still important for Dugin,

despite his fascination with Iran and similar Muslim

states) should be minimal or nonexistent.

As time progressed, their views became even more

opposed. Dugin, if he did not become part of the

establishment, at least rendered absolute support to the

regime, while Dzhemal continued to be in opposition

to the Kremlin. With time, his opposition hardened.

Not only was the current regime a U.S. stooge and the

enemy of both Russian Muslims and Muslims all over


the world, but originally Russia was not a friend of

Muslims. The view that the regime was a perversion of

the country’s real essence should be discarded. Russia

had been an oppressive state toward all minorities,

especially Muslims, from the start of its history. The

early years of the Soviet regime were possibly the only


Therefore, since Russians could create a new order

in which all ethnic/religious groups could live in peace

and a just society, Muslims should do it themselves. In

this arrangement, any dream of a Orthodox Russian

and Russian Muslim union became a pipedream. The

fact that Russians and Muslims happen to live in the

same space does not make them related in any other

way. Russian Muslims’ real brothers are not Russians

but the global Muslim umma. Russia’s Muslims are a

part of the global Muslim community and should retain

the revolutionary vigor that could liberate itself and

all of humanity. The image of the Muslim community

as a new collective revolutionary force, so to speak,

resembles the image of the revolutionary proletariat,

at least as it was visualized by Marx.

In his replacement of the revolutionary proletariat by

the revolutionary Muslims, Dzhemal was quite similar

to the European Left, who, while disappointed in the

revolutionary potential of the European proletariat, in

the 1960s put their hope in the revolutionary potential

of criminals, racial minorities, and similar groups. For

Dzhemal, the radical Muslims had emerged as the

potential saviors of humanity against the evil alliance

of the United States, Russia, and Israel—all bound to

suppress Muslims and the downtrodden in general.

In this universal struggle between Muslims and their

oppressors, Iran played an important role.


It is true that Dzhemal’s view on Iran was not

consistent. At the beginning of his intellectual career in

post-Soviet Russia and possibly earlier, Dzhemal had

a rather bleak view of Iran. He viewed the evolution

of the Iranian regime pretty much like that of the

Soviet regime. The Iranian Revolution had originally

represented the hope of humanity, but repressive

bureaucraticization of the regime took place in the

same way as in the USSR. Still, as time progressed,

Dzhema’s view of Iran became brighter,71 especially

after Ahmenidjad took power. His ascendance meant

a return of the early revolutionary vigor that had made

Iran one of the leading forces fighting the unholy alliance

of the United States, Israel and, implicitly, Russia as a

part of an unholy cabal of Muslim oppressors.

Dzhemal’s increasing contact with Iranians—he

visited the country at least once72—made him even

more predisposed to the regime, which he clearly saw as

not following the usual revolutionary transformation/

degeneration. Russia/USSR had been one of the best

examples where the original drive for worldwide

liberation of the oppressed had degenerated into a

sort of “National-Bolshevik” transmogrification and

the revolutionary slogans just a fig leaf of indigenous

long-seated nationalism. The Iranian interpretation,

Dzhemal implied, escaped this pitfall, and the Iranian

flirtation with Islamists—so perplexing and regretted

by Dugin—is not a liability but a confirmation that

the Tehran regime is still a revolutionary force, not

just a disguised manifestation of primordial Persian

nationalism. Iran should therefore get whatever it

needed to fight off the Americans and promote the

revolutionary process.

Either Dzhemal or those affiliated with him,

for example, those who published on Internet sites

sponsored by him, proclaimed that Iran should get


nuclear weapons from no one but Russia, for this

would be in Russia’s best interests. Other observers

(from Internet sites) believe that Iran actually needs no

one’s help: it already has nuclear weapons. But the most

important weapons of the Iranians are high spirits and

readiness to sacrifice for the common good. Precisely

this is absent among Americans, these observers

implied. If the United States, in its imperial delusions

and belief in its omnipotence, were to attack Iran, it

would be not a victorious blitzkrieg but a generationlong

war resulting in a crushing American defeat. The

power of Iran and the disastrous consequences for

the United States of a war with Iran are understood

even by realistic-minded American politicians such

as the “Polish count.” This, of course, was an oblique

reference to Brezshinski, regarded by quite a few

Russian pundits (e.g., Dugin) as the most influential

person in Washington in regard to foreign policy. His

tensions with the Bush administration were blissfully


This praise of Iran as a mighty revolutionary force

went along with sometimes explicit praise of the

Chechen resistance, whose revolutionary activities

should lead to the destruction of the Russian state and

transform the Russian/Eurasian space of the former

USSR in an anarchical/revolutionary mix of radical

Muslims who would launch a worldwide jihad-type

revolution. Dzhemal’s view here was quite similar

to that entertained by the jihadist members of the

Chechen resistance and some al-Qaida ideologists such

as Zarkawi.

Dzhemal was a popular figure among some Russian

radicals and known abroad. He visited several Muslim

countries including, as noted, Iran, as an honorable

guru. One could argue that Dzhemal’s views were on


the fringe of legality and could be marginalized. But

similar views—in less radical form—could be recorded

in the statements of Russian Muslims who were part of

the establishment. Many of them, while praising Iran,

implicitly juxtaposed it to Russia. This was the case

with Duma Shamil Sultanov.

As until recently a member of of the Russian

parliament, Sultanov could not subscribe to Dzemaltype

radical views. At the same time, similar to Dzemal,

he was a staunch supporter of the alliance with Iran. He

stated that Russia and Iran should be allies, Iran should

play the leading role in the geopolitical/strategic

arrangement. Present-day Russia had degenerated and

followed the disastrous path of the West, which led not

just to economic decline and social polarization but

also, and this was most important in Sultanov’s view,

to spiritual decay. Living for high goals and the spirit

of sacrifice more or less disappeared, and this made

it harder for Russia to stand against Western, mostly

American, pressure.

For Sultanov, the story is quite different with

Iran. He visited Iran, possibly several times, and was

impressed with the country. What most profoundly

affected him was not the economic or military prowess

of the regime but the feeling of sacrifice and dedication

to a high goal that permeated Iranian society.74 He was

especially impressed by his visit to one of the major

cemeteries in the capital, a place of almost half a million

dead martyrs or revolutionaries. He saw it as a place

of a sort of holy pilgrimage and reverence. This, he

thought, was an indication that an entire nation could

dedicate itself to a higher goal and even forsake lives

for this. It was this spiritual wholesomeness that made

Iran the leader and an example for Russia.


Only acceptance of Iran not just as Russia’s equal but

as the leader in the Russia/Iran alliance would make it

possible for Russia to restore its international position.75

Yet, rapprochement with Iran would come with a

price. Russia must change itself a lot before actually

being able to cooperate with Iran in a meaningful way,

not out of a purely pragmatic cash nexus. This could

not be accomplished without a considerably increased

role of Islam in Russia. Without Islam, the entire global

community would go astray.

Sultanov’s explicit juxtaposition of the rise of Iran

as a part of the rising Muslim world to Russia also was

directly related, at least in the eyes of ethnic Russian

observers, with his own ethnicity. That unrestricted

praise of Iran started to come mostly from nonethnic

Russians; people who were historically Muslim could

also be seen with Radzhab Safarov, who led the

Center for the Study of Contemporary Iran. Safarov

was less critical than Sultanov toward the present

Russian regime. He could allow the remark that by not

fully engaging with Iran, Russia had made a serious

geopolitical mistake and lost a valuable customer.76

Still, he is an ethnic Tajik, and can be seen by the Russian

public as a Muslim who advocated the importance of

the Muslim state and of ethnic kin—Tajiks are close to


Connecting praise of Iran—even in a moderate,

Russia-friendly way—not just with the U.S./West

struggle but with criticism of Russia—began to bother

the Russian elite, possibly on a collective subconscious

level. Iran emerged not just as a friendly or at least

neutral power, but as a power whose rise could

be related to the much unwelcome rise of Russian

Muslims, who demand the redistribution of power,

and that rise of Muslim influence could provide a


breeding ground for terrorist activities. This trend in

the perception of Iran coincided with the rise of a new

type of nationalism. It is profoundly anti-Imperial and

anti-Muslim, and its views of Iran, while not consistent,

were mostly negative, or at least skeptical.




As noted earlier, the various forms of Russian

nationalism that emerged in the late Soviet and early

post-Soviet era were profoundly imperial. Their

representatives asserted that, at a minimum, Russia’s

lost Soviet provinces should be reunited with Russia in

some form. Some believed that the Russian/Eurasian

Empire should expand beyond the borders of the

former USSR through conquest or, more likely, a web

of alliances. Only Muslims of various ethnic origins are

Russia’s natural allies, plainly because Russia’s cultural

and political matrixes, shaped through the centuries,

were essentially similar to those of traditional Muslim

societies such as Iran. The pro-Western, pro-American

Yeltsin regime was an aberration that would be

removed in the near future. These Russian Nationalist-

Imperialists believed not only that Russians and

Muslims of various ethnic origins—inside and outside

the former USSR—would be natural allies, but that

Russians would maintain the leading role in these

alliances. They believed the Muslims would willingly

accept the leadership of ethnic Russians, so there was

a reason for their usually benign views on Iran. But

by the middle of Putin’s presidency, a new Russian

nationalism started to emerge, with idiosyncratic views

of the Muslim world and of Iran as a part of it.


Russian nationalism in the post-Soviet era was

in a way a new phenomenon, and one could argue

that nationalism was born in Russia only then. One,

of course, could state that this claim is not true, that

nationalism is an ideology that has existed in Russia

for centuries. Still, we must remember that in the 18th

and most of the 19th centuries, nationalism was mostly

an intellectual construction of a narrow segment of the

Russian elite. Even in the early 20th century at the

end of tsarist Russia, most Russians—the peasants—

were in general completely oblivious to the notion of

a nation as an entity separate from the personality of

the autocrats. Their sense of Russianness was usually

related to language and Orthodoxy.

Russian peasants, of course, were not unique, and

a similar form of identity could be found in other

pre-modern societies. Even in the Soviet era, despite

nationalism’s prominence in official discourse since

the late 1920s and early 1930s, most average Russians’

identity came not from the nation but from the state,

and Russianness mostly dissolved into Sovietness.

This weakness of Russian nationalism among

average Russians explains why, despite the lamentation

of intellectuals who regarded the end of the USSR as the

greatest catastrophe in Russian history, most Russians

accepted the collapse without much resistance. In fact,

many of them regarded the empire as a liability and

expected improvement in their living standard after

shedding it, not just in Eastern Europe but even in the

republics of the former USSR. This absence of deeprooted

Russian nationalism is quite understandable if

we remember that nationalism is the product of modern

capitalism and the emergence of law as a force that

transcends the web of personal connections and blood

ties that was the operational model for the majority of

Russians, in both the tsarist and Soviet eras.


Only recently has modern capitalism slowly begun

to entrench itself in Russia, now mostly an urban society.

Private property is affecting the life of the average

Russian as never before, despite the deformation of

Russian capitalism by corruption and purely criminal

aspects. With the advent of capitalism, nationalism

started to percolate from an ideological construction of

the elite to the mind of the average Russian.

Understanding the complexity of emerging

Russian nationalism is useful to view Russia’s image

of Iran in a more general vision of the Muslim world.

Some modifications of Russian nationalism did not

break completely with Eurasian/Imperial Nationalist

ideologies. Members of these branches would not

mind seeing Russia as a great power, but they were

not obsessed with imperial might as a goal to which

everything should be subordinated. A high standard

of living, economic prosperity in general, was, in their

view, much more important than the imperial greatness

so fascinating to Eurasianists and National Imperialists.

They were not mesmerized by the West, especially the

United States—a viewpoint so characteristic to the late

Soviet/early post-Soviet era. At the same time, they

did not share the Duginian/Huntingtonian notion

about the inevitable conflict between Russia and the

United States. They saw the conflict between Russia

and the West as a pragmatic realpolitik-type struggle.

And, while fully understanding that competition is an

essential element of the Social Darwinist world, they

blame the United States not so much for defending its

turf as for its irrational and ideologized foreign policy.

Indeed for some of them, like Gleb Pavlovsky—one of

the leading current ideologists—the “neocons” behave

exactly like the USSR of the past.

In this interpretation, the Soviet leaders were not

pragmatic politicians but ideologues who believed


what they preached and took the idea of the spread of

socialism all over the world close to heart. They arranged

the entire foreign policy according to this unworkable

paradigm and paid dearly for it. For Pavlovsky and

others like him, Bush’s “neocons” followed the same

road at the same peril. But if reasonable pragmatists

would stay at the helm of American foreign policy,

Russia would be able to find common ground with

them. Russia, despite its problems with the West, still

ultimately belongs to Western Christian civilization; in

any case, the West—mostly Western Europe—is closer

to Russia than is any other civilization. The Soviet

period is seen as an aberration, at least as an event that

has passed into history with no chance of return.

The Soviet period emerged in several somewhat

contradictory facets. On one hand, the strengths and

achievements of the USSR were acknowledged, and

its political/social and economic achievements were

praised. On the other hand, the same USSR—a strong

totalitarian power—evoked not only fear but also


The new Russian Nationalists’ approach to the

Muslim world—where Iran is placed—had specific

features. These groups would not mind using Iran

like any other country for their own purposes, such

as a counterbalance to the United States or in various

commercial deals. But they had never entertained

the feeling that Iran is kindred to Russia, a basically

European/Christian civilization, or thought about

strong military ties with it. They had little desire for a

permanent geopolitical marriage, with mutual devotion

and mutual sacrifice, which was at the heart of the

Eurasianist vision of a Russian/Iranian relationship.

Pragmatically skeptical in their vision of Iran, they

assumed Iran viewed Russia in the same way.


This guarded view was part of the Russian

Nationalists’ view of Muslims, and in fact of all

minorities inside Russia. These minorities could live in

peace in the shade of the Russian eagle. Russians would

treat them fairly and, having no rigid racist prejudices,

would admit some thoroughly Russified Muslims to

their midst. But they rejected any idea of a Eurasian

“symbiosis” and asserted that Russia is a country of

ethnic Russian and Orthodox religion and culture.

This sort of Russian nationalism represented the view

of the growing Russian middle class, who, at least until

the 2008-09 economic crisis, had an increasing sense of


Another popular nationalist trend represented

the views of other groups of ethnic Russians. The

development of capitalism under Putin led to increasing

polarization of Russian society, social but also regional

and spatial, where the residents of the Russian capital,

and the big cities in general, lived much better than

those in the provinces.

There are other important social characteristics of

these groups, including growing numbers of young

Russians. And while at the beginning of Gorbachev’s

reforms young Russians were predominately on

the side of the capitalist transformation of society,

increasing numbers of these disenfranchised youth

now see the present economic and social arrangements

as giving them no chance for the future. These

Russians—contrary to the confident members of the

Russian middle class—are not sure that ethnic Russians

can master the increasing numbers of Muslims. They

see the Muslims as not just growing in numbers but

unwilling to assimilate; many openly express disdain

for ethnic Russians and their culture. The young

Russians also see Muslims dominating the markets


and as a major source of crime. Their bitterness has

instilled them with racist and openly fascist feelings/

ideology. Though not believing that Muslims and

ethnic Russians could live in peace, they do not opt for

imperial expansion taking over Muslim land. Similar to

European neo-Nazis, these Russian minorities opt for

isolation/parochialism. Their desire, if not to purge all

Muslims (in fact, anyone who does not look European)

from Russia, is at least to minimize their presence.

Moreover, quite a few of these people wish to shed the

enclaves where Russians do not dominate completely.

Some even see Moscow as an imperial capital that

fattens itself at the expense of the rest of the country.

In their views, Moscow is a non-Russian city not just

by its policies, but also by its ethnic composition—non-

Russian, nonwhite people. Consequently, they regard

the entire Russian state in its present form as hostile to

them and wish its disintegration. Their ideal is a much

smaller but ethnically homogeneous Russian republic

where the principle “Russia for Russians” would

finally be implemented. Such people do not think

much about Iran. But Iran is a Muslim country, and

to these Russians the Iranians, swarthy in appearance,

resemble people from Central Asia and the Caucasus,

whom they hate—irrespective of their ethnic/cultural/

religious affiliation.

Thus, emerging trends among both Russian

Muslims and Russian Nationalists have affected the

perception of Iran by the upper Russian elite. The trends

suggest that the rise of Muslims—inside and outside

Russia—does not necessarily benefit Russia. In the

strong Muslim states or the foreign jihadist movement,

it might create more problems than benefits.

New trends do not mean that layers of previous

ideologies and their views of Iran have completely


disappeared. Eurasianism and Imperial Russian

Nationalism continue to be part of the ideological

menu of the upper circle of the ruling elite. These

are manifested in the notion that Russia’s citizens

are “Rossiane.” The word implies not just formal

citizenship but a sort of “Eurasian” cultural/quasiethnic

symbiosis of ethnic groups of the Russian

Federation. The authorities continue to underscore

the notion of Russia as a grand power that—due to

its unique civilizational position—could draw others,

both West and East. Russia could well turn strongly

to the East if the West, the United States or Europe or

both, does not take Russian interests into account.

The existence of Eurasian and National Imperialist

ideologies is evidenced by the fact that people such

as Dugin and Ivashov have continued to publish

in mainstream Russian venues such as Izvestiia and

churn out books.77 As to the practical implications of

Eurasianist, quasi-Eurasianist, and Imperial Nationalist

ideologies, one could point to several joint Russian/

Chinese military exercises. But this ideological layer is

increasingly influenced by others previously discussed,

who see Asia, the Muslim world in particular, as

more a threat than a help to Russia. This cautiously

pragmatic and often hostile view of Asia can be seen

in the declining popularity of Eurasianism and that

academic publications on the matter “sharply declined

after 2001.”78 And this affects the image of Iran and the

corollary discourse of Russian official and semi-official

ideologies in dealing with it.

Since approximately the middle of Putin’s tenure,

official Russian pronouncements on Iran have become

increasingly controversial and often mutually exclusive.

On one hand, officials proclaim that Iran is Russia’s

friend, one that Russia would never allow another


state—mostly in reference to the United States—to

attack. Russian officials also make statements that

Russia is resolutely against any serious sanctions79 and

would sell Iran enough sophisticated weapons to fend

for itself.80 Russian officials also proclaimed that Russia

would either provide in the future or has already

provided sophisticated weapons to Iran’s ally, Syria,

and would close its eyes to Syria’s transfer of Russian

weapons to Iran.81 Russia seems to be unconcerned

that the sale of weapons to the major U.S. enemies in

the Middle East could seriously damage Russia-U.S.

relations.82 Moreover, Russian officials stated that

they would increase economic cooperation with Iran

and help it in many other ways.83 On the other hand,

Russian officials almost simultaneously announce that

Russia is going to support sanctions, that Russia’s sales

to Iran are quite limited,84 and that Russia is strongly

against Iran’s transformation into a nuclear power and

will do its best to prevent this.85 In any case, Iran would

not build a nuclear weapon from anything it got from


Moreover, while Russian official proclamations

were confusing and often flatly contradictory, its

actions were increasingly anti-Iranian. Bushehr again

is a good example. Throughout the entire Putin era,

Iran continued to buy Russian weapons. But it has

increasingly improved its own scientific/industrial

prowess and consequently the quality of its weapons.

The Russian mass media implicitly support publishing

reports about Iran’s progress in these matters. Bushehr

remains the only project where Iran completely

depends on Russian expertise.

Iranians were also aware that Russia had reaped

considerable material benefits working on Bushehr,87

and even more lucrative deals could be expected


in the future if the project were successfully pushed

through.88 All this seems to have provided the Russia

side an opportunity to demonstrate to the Iranians

Russia’s efficiency and promptness in fulfilling its

obligation. While Russia should have finished Bushehr

a long time ago, it continued to drag its heels to the

very end of Putin’s presidency.

The reasons or excuses were many. Iranian

procrastination with paying has often had been

proclaimed as the reason for the problems.89 After

Iranian complaints and threats that they could proceed

with the construction of Bushehr without Russian help,90

Russia usually resumed the work, especially when the

Iranians insured them in regard to funding.91

Iranian nuclear ambitions were also cited as the reason

for the delay.92 On occasion, Russia has informed

the Iranian side that it will withhold nuclear fuel for

Iran’s nearly completed Bushehr power plant unless

Iran suspends its uranium enrichment as demanded

by the United Nations Security Council.93 And, in

general, Russia was almost ready to stop the work.94

Yet almost simultaneously the work proceeded, and

statements were made that Russia would accomplish

its task in Bushehr regardless of any objections from

the United States or even the United Nations.95 The

Russian/Iranian relationship in regard to Bushehr

became increasingly confusing when Russia almost

simultaneously issued positive and negative signals.96

It was not surprising that the work on Bushehr

proceeded slowly. Moreover, even when Putin visited

Tehran—the first Russian leader to do so after Stalin—

he avoided making a clear promise, and he pointed to

various technical problems Russia faced in Bushehr.97

He stated with an air of sarcasm that he had made clear

promises only to his mother when he was a little boy.


An even clearer sign of Putin’s anti-Iranian attitude

was the case with the Gabala radar station. This was

intimately related with Russia’s worries in regard to

American plans to deploy an anti-missile defense shield

in Europe. U.S. officials stated that the system should

not worry Russia. It would not tip the strategic balance

plainly because it would not defend the West from

Russian missiles. At the same time, it could intercept

a few Iranian missiles. The Russians, however, are still

worried. Their logic seems to be as follows. First, they

are fully aware that their nuclear arsenal continues

to decline and new missiles will not replace the old

ones. Second, despite possible improvements in the

penetration capabilities of the new Russian missiles,

the United States could be even more successful in

improvements of the anti-missile shield. At a certain

point, it could make a Russian retaliatory strike


This issue certainly worries the Russian elite. Yet

Putin pretends that he believes that Iran is the sole

U.S. concern, so he proposed that the Americans use

the Gabala radar station located in Azerbaijan and

operated by Russia. Putin actually proposed letting

the Americans use the station if the missile defense

shield plans were scrapped. The fact that transfer of

U.S. surveillance to a station in Azerbaijan, close to

the Iranian border, would drastically improve U.S.

capabilities to watch Iran and help U.S. preparations

for a military strike against Iran, seems not to worry

the Russians. The Putin/Medvedev elite might even

accept a potential strike against Iran as having positive

implications for Russia, if it were the only way to halt

Iran’s transformation into a nuclear power and its

general rise, seen here as hardly benefiting Russia in

the long run.


Yet Russia’s policy toward Israel is one of the most

indicative signs of the Russian elite’s increasing worries

about Iran and the entire Islamic world.



Russia’s rapprochement with Israel is, of course, a

complicated phenomenon and cannot be seen just in

the context of the Russian-Iranian relationship. To start

with, the Russian authorities’ changes in their approach

to Israel are intimately connected with changes in

their attitude toward Russian Jews. And this has been

closely connected with the authorities’ approach to

various foreign policy issues. During the late Soviet era,

Jews were seen as a symbol of the West, with negative

implications regarding Jews and their position in the

country. Emigration confirmed the image of Jews as

actual agents of the hostile West and capitalism—the

socioeconomic and political ideological system hostile

to the USSR. In the late Soviet and especially the early

post-Soviet era, the United States and capitalism went

from completely negative to completely positive

in the authorities’ view. Consequently, Jews were

transformed from a negative to a positive symbol;

and the relationship with Israel was reestablished and

strengthened because Israel was seen as a U.S. symbol,

at a time when the United States was viewed as Russia’s

foremost geopolitical friend and ally and an example

to follow.

Putin’s rise and the exile and imprisonment of a few

tycoons (mostly Jewish, at least ethnically) created the

belief that Putin had returned to the anti-Semitic policy

of the past. This was not the case. As time progressed,

Putin made cautious friendly actions toward Jews.


Before his formal replacement by Medvedev, he

introduced the institution of Jewish rabbi in the

Russian army. To underscore this positive approach,

Putin chose for the position an Orthodox rabbi. His

photograph, showing long, traditional attire and

beard, accompanied an interview in which he praised

the Russian military for being extremely friendly to

him; it was published in the mass media. Nothing of

this sort had been seen in the Russian army since the

1917 Revolution.

This rather positive approach to Russian Jews went

along with the more and more friendly relations with

Israel. In 2008 Russia and Israel abolished visas for

the citizens of both countries.98 This implied quite a

serious sense of mutual trust, if one would remember

that Israelis still need a visa to enter the United States.

Moreover, the Russians bought some Israeli military

equipment; and, as some Russian observers state, the

decision was not so much due to the equipment’s

superiority to Russian versions as because of political


This positive approach to Israel and the Jews came

about for different reasons. One is the authorities’ desire

to show that Russia is part of the civilized Western

world which shuns anti-Semitism and which had been

a part of Russian life for centuries. This approach to

Israel had nothing to do with a desire to please the

United States as was the case in the beginning of the

post-Soviet era. As a matter of fact, the relationship

between Russia and the United States was rather

cool through most of Putin’s tenure. Still, the most

important was the rapprochement was mostly based

on combating a common threat, Islamic extremism;

this was where cooperation between Israel and Russia

was close.


At the same time, the Iranians, or at least those close

to President Ahmanijhad, openly proclaimed that Israel

is the embodiment of evil. This negative image, at least

as presented to the outside world, was underscored by

Ahmanijhad’s proclamation that Iran will engage in

negotiations with any country—including the United

States—except Israel, which was absolute evil. Israel

should be completely obliterated.

It is clear that Russia’s rapprochement with Israel

should be seen as quite negative to the Iranian elite

and implicitly anti-Iranian. And it is not surprising

in this context that the negative image of Iran as a

power potentially quite dangerous for Russia has

been elaborated on by some leading Russian Jewish

intellectuals and others who share their views.

At first glance, the intellectuals seem to propose a

rather glamorous image of Iran and implicitly discard

what they regard as the naive image presented by

American mass media. Iran, in the U.S. popular

view, is a backward, almost medieval state due to its

authoritarian/totalitarian nature and the domination

of clergy over almost every aspect of life. The regime

is seen as absolutely alienated from the masses, who

crave liberty and are ready for revolution or for U.S.

liberation. These Russian intellectuals consider these

views oversimplistic and wrong.100

Some observers were especially caustic in their

criticism of U.S. pundits who believe the Iranian regime

would collapse after a few American strikes or new

sanctions.101 The Iranian regime, they implied, might

indeed resemble the USSR in the early Soviet years.

But this is not a liability but a great advantage for the

system. The totalitarian streak in the socio-economic

structure makes it possible to channel the resources of

the state to the most important projects and ensures


rapid economic and scientific development. Iran, in this

view, has rapidly developed its economic, scientific,

and military prowess.102 According to some Russian

observers, Iran’s success is really exceptional when

compared to its neighbors.

Sergei Karaganov pointed out that Iran has made

considerable achievements since the 1979 Revolution.

“Iran has managed to limit its population growth,

establish a relatively modern educational system

as a supplement to its great ancient culture, and

achieve a small increase in per capita gross domestic

product (GDP) even before the oil boom, which was a

remarkable feat compared to the situation prevailing

in the overwhelming majority of its neighbors.“103

Iran is used to being self-sufficient over long periods

of tension with the United States, and the demand for

oil would make isolating Iran completely impossible.

Moreover, if the West demonstrated solidarity and

tried to isolate Iran by a united front, Iran would not

even need Russia, for it could always to turn to China,

the rising superpower of the 21st century, which

would never leave Iran in the cold.104 While the West’s

ability to damage the Iranian economy is limited, Iran

could damage the Western economy by disrupting oil


The regime also enjoys the support of a considerable

segment of the Iranian population. The masses do

not need a government that focuses its attention on

maintaining their liberty but a regime that is concerned

with the their well-being; and the Iranian regime does

precisely that. Moreover, the regime has enjoyed a

powerful messianic ideology—a blend of Shia belief in

a special role in world history with primordial Persian

nationalism—and has inculcated the masses with this

ideology.106 The Iranian elite was also able to purge Iran

from “fifth columns,” a clear difference from Iraq.107


While enjoying a steady rise in economic, scientific,

and military standing, the Iranian regime also engaged

in sophisticated foreign policy, taking advantage of U.S.

blunders in Iraq and elsewhere. For example, Russian

observers, following Iranian pundits, believe the

American handling of Saddam Hussein was actually

quite damaging for U.S. interests in the region in the

long run.108 Finally, Iran has a web of terrorist proxies

that could create problems for the United States in Iraq

and elsewhere.109 And these views are also shared by

some Western observers.110

Russian observers believe that Iran is a rapidly

rising power, and the United States can hardly do

anything to prevent this rise, including its ultimate

transformation into a nuclear power.111 While Western

pundits regard Iran as declining and lagging behind

the advanced West, but the opposite is actually true. In

the case of a crisis of its major rival, the United States,

Iran could rapidly become not just as a regional but a

global super power. They compared Iran with Soviet

Russia, which came about as a result of World War

I and rose to a global superpower with astonishing


In this praise of Iranians’ prowess and potential,

these pundits look similar to Imperial Nationalists,

Eurasianists, and, of course, a score of Russian

Muslims. But there is a considerable difference. For

Eurasianists and Russian Imperial Nationalists, the

clear sign of Iran’s power is Russia’s invitation to join

Iran as an ally. Still, the views of the above discussed

pundits on Iran are quite different. They see Iran as a

mortal danger for Russia, related to their general fear

of the Muslim world. They noted with disapproval

Iran’s flirtation with North Korea,112 even more so

the Iranian elite call to destroy Israel.113 It is quite


possible that the Russian elite did not much care about

Israel; but Ahmanijhad’s call for Israel’s destruction,

regardless of the consequences for the world and Iran

itself, evoked—possibly on a subconscious level—the

image of Russian Islamic extremists ready to engage

in suicidal terrorism. These signs of similarity of the

Iranian elite with Islamists was disturbing, even to

Dugin. Despite his continuous general pro-Iranian

position,114 Dugin admitted with regret that the Iranian

leader’s statement in regard to Israel was regrettable,

as was Iran’s flirtation with Islamists.115

For Dugin and his supporters, the problems in

the Russian/Iranian relationship are due to Iranian

behavior, or at least this played a clear role in

complicating the Russian/Iranian relationship; other

supporters of a Russia-Iran axis see problems basically

on Russia’s side. Ivashov, for example, continued to

regard the alliance between Russia, Iran, and other

Asian countries as the only way for salvation.116

Ivashov’s views here were quite similar to those at

the beginning of Putin’s ascendance to power. He

continued to maintain a good personal relationship

with the members of the Iranian elite and was trusted

enough to be invited to Iranian military maneuvers.

Later, on his return, he stated in an interview that

he was amazed by the sophistication of the Iranian

armed forces and the quality of Iranian weapons. But

he believed that despite the achievements of Iranian

science and industry, Iran might acquire additional

Russian weapons and that Russia could well take

advantage of present anti-American feelings and sell

more weapons all over the world.117

Ivashov was, however, apparently skeptical of

any prospects for real Russian/Iranian cooperation,

and this was directly connected with his vision of


Putin’s regime and Russia’s future in general. Soon

after Putin’s rise, Ivashov was pensioned off, clearly

not at his personal desire. He found out soon that

Putin’s socio-economic policy was not much different

from Yeltsin’s, and this inculcated Ivashov with the

gloomy thought that Russia’s decline would continue.

Moreover, Russia quite possibly had entered the last

period of its existence as a state. This sort of gloomy

view of Russia’s present and future was incorporated

in Ivashov’s view of the Iranian relationship. He clearly

approved of Russia’s support of Iran; but he did not

believe that Russia would be a true ally of Iran. He

regarded Russia’s position as that of a loose, immoral

girl who tried to please several suitors to get gifts from

all of them.118


Russia’s war with Georgia led to a sharp increase in

tensions between Russia and the United States. At that

time, Russia seemed to have returned to its 1999-2001

approach to Iran. Authors of several articles implied

that in facing the hostile West, Russia once again

should turn to Iran, providing it with sophisticated

weapons and even helping in the development of its

nuclear capabilities. In this approach to the country,

Iran emerged in the way as had been visualized by

Eurasianists and Russian Imperial Nationalists. It was

seen as a mighty state whose culture was quite close

to that of Russia. And the implications were that Iran

and Russia could, indeed, forge an alliance of a sort;

and the very fact that Iran was among the few nations

that supported Russia in the war seems to have made

this alliance even more likely.119 Still, this brief splash

of confidence and elaboration on Eurasian/Russian


Imperial ideology was quite short. An increasing sense

of instability led to the emergence of new trends in

approaching Iran, which still emphasize the concern

and uncertainty in regard to the future of Russian/

Iranian relations.


As was noted, the Russian elites’ approach to

Iran was incorporated in their general vision of the

world around them. This vision of the Muslim world

was especially important. From the late Soviet era

to approximately 1999-2000, the view that the West,

especially the United States, is hardly Russia’s friend

steadily increased in popularity, along with the belief

that Russia should turn to the East for true allies. In

the late Soviet/early post-Soviet era, this view was

rather marginal, popular mostly among those in

opposition to Yeltsin. Still, as time progressed, the idea

began to percolate to semi-official and finally official

circles. It was at this point that Iran reemerged as a key

geopolitical player and one of the most important of

Russia’s allies.

On the other hand, the increasing problems with

Islamic fundamentalists cast a negative light on Iran, in

spite of Iran’s assertion that it had nothing to do with

Islamic extremists and was their sworn enemy. Recent

geopolitical and economic trends have led to a new

perception of the Muslim threat and the place of Iran

in the context of this threat. Through most of the late

Putin era, the Muslim threat—at least as far as Iran was

concerned—had an important dimension. It was the

threat of an emerging strong, possibly nuclear power on

Russia’s southern borders, whose characteristics could

well be similar to those of the USSR at the beginning of


the Soviet era. At the same time, the Russian elite had,

in general, a feeling that the present-day Russia could

hardly be an ally of this state. Moreover, Russia could

well be a victim of the rising Iran, which represented the

power of Asia, e.g., China—and could create a problem

for Russia, regardless of any conflict with the United

States. Barack Obama’s election to the U.S. presidency

has in a way heightened these apprehensions; and

the Russian elites’ view of Obama’s approach to the

Muslim world is controversial enough.

On one hand, the Russian elite is apparently

worried that the Obama administration could make

a drastic shift in American foreign policy. The Bush

administration was perceived as anti-Islamic; Obama

might proclaim the United States the best friend of

Muslims. The anxiety is heightened by the assertion of

Russian Nationalists, from moderates to rabid racists,

that Obama’s election signals the end of an era in

global and, definitely, American history. In the past,

the United States was basically a country of white

people, all influence of minorities notwithstanding.

Its dominance as a global power indicated the global

dominant position of the white man.

According to these observers, this arrangement is

over: in Obama’s America, non-whites have become the

dominant force. Logically, non-white America could

join Iran—perceived here as a non-white country. Any

alliance between the United States and Iran, in fact, the

entire non-Western world, would be directed against

Russia, which is still seen as the stronghold of white

Christian civilization. This sense of a possible alliance

between the United States and Iran and, in fact, the

entire Muslim world, at the expense of others, Russia,

for example, is deeply rooted in the fears described

above. Indeed, many Russian Nationalists, such as


Eurasianists and Russian Imperial Nationalists, see the

terrorist attacks by Chechens in the 1990s and early

2000s as directly inspired by the United States. The rise

of Iran in tandem with the United States bothers the

Russian elite and urges caution in regard to Iran.

Another trend in the minds of the Russian elite

implies a rather positive view of Iran that might be

compared with the views of the Eurasianists and

Imperial Russian Nationalists. But this positive image

is quite different in essence from that entertained by

those groups. The Imperial Nationalists praised Iran

for its anti-American position and defiant radicalism.

A segment of the present Russian elite sees Iran as a

moderate force allied against Muslim radicals and

would be pleased by an American rapprochement with

Iran. This vision of Iran as a moderate and, in a way,

stabilizing force is deeply connected with the sense of

instability the Russian elite started to experience at the

beginning of the present global economic crisis.

Since the beginning of Putin’s presidency, the

Russian economy had been on the rise, manifested

among many other things in appreciation of the rubles

value. For example, in the last 5 or 6 years, the value

of the Russian ruble vis-à-vis that of the American

dollar rises considerably. This was a potent symbol

for Russians, who believed that while the dollar is

increasingly in trouble, the Russian economy is rising.

The sense of not just economic but geopolitical might

had been reached during the Russian-Georgian War.

For the first time in post-Soviet history, Russia was

successful in a war, and since Georgia was seen as the

U.S. proxy, it was assumed that Russia had defeated

not just Georgia, but the mighty United States.

The economic crisis did not affect Russia

immediately. Oil prices continued to rise for a while;


and this created the impression among a considerable

number of both the elite and populace that demand for

Russian oil and gas would continue, despite America’s

troubles, because of the expanding Asian economy.

The sharp drop in oil prices and the decline of the ruble

was a shock for them. The currency reserve started to

shrink, and the declining economy might lead to a

sharp increase in unemployment for the first time in

the post-Soviet era. During Yeltsin’s tenure, workers

were not paid, but they were not formally laid off and

could believe they would finally be paid. It is only now

that real unemployment has become a problem.

The Russian authorities face different situations from

those of the Yeltsin period from another perspective as

well. During the entire Yeltsin period, mass violence

was practically nonexistent, even during the events of

fall 1993 when only a handful of people defended the

Russian parliament building against Yeltsin’s troops.

Most Muscovites either paid no attention to the events

or watched it as a sort of macabre theatrical show. This

was, at least, partly because those who were against the

regime were mostly elderly or middle-aged people. The

youth—the most active part of the population—were in

general on the side of the regime. The situation today

is quite different. Increasing numbers of Russian youth

are deeply disenchanted with the regime and ready for

violence. Several major riots erupted in Russia in 2006

and 2007. Hundreds of people were involved, and riot

police were employed.

The fear of instability is also projected to the

Muslim world. Russia became quite concerned with

developments in Afghanistan and the clear signs, at least

from the Russian officers’ points of view, that coalition

forces would fail to suppress the Taliban. The Russian

elite increasingly worried that a Taliban victory would


spill over to Central Asia and the Caucasus. In this case,

their major interest is not so much a drive for imperial

aggrandizement—not consistent or strong even at the

beginning of Putin’s presidency—but stability and the

oil/gas turf in Central Asia. This explains America’s

problems with keeping a base in Manas, Kyrgyzstan;

from this perspective, most of the Russian elite is in

favor of approaching Iran.

As was noted above, Iran appealed to Eurasianists

and Imperial Russian Nationalists because they saw in

it a mighty, radical state that was uncompromisingly

anti-American. This new approach to appreciation of

Iran is based on different principles: Iran as a force

of stability and moderation. It has been asserted that

Afghanistan cannot be stabilized without Iran.


The image of Iran has been incorporated into the

Russian elite’s vision of the Muslim world. The positive

image of Iran was mostly included in a few ideological

paradigms; for ethnic Russians, who should still be

seen as the dominant force in the Russian Federation,

Eurasianism that should be seen here as the most


The proponents of Eurasianism regard unity/

alliance between ethnic Russians and Muslim peoples

of the Russian Federation as the very essence of Russian

civilization. In the late Soviet/early post-Soviet Russia,

Eurasianists focused on the relationship between

ethnic Russians and Muslims within the USSR and

former USSR. Later, their interests became increasingly

global, and Iran emerged as the most important

potential Russian ally, not just as a counterbalance to

the United States and the West in general, but as a way


to make Russia once again a great power. In the early

years of its existence, members of this group were

strongly anti-American. Still, their views were marginal

in the beginning of the post-Soviet era. However,

with increasing disenchantment with post-Soviet

arrangements and the steady evolution of the Yeltsin

regime along authoritarian lines, pro-Iranian views

became increasingly popular, even around general

pro-western segments of the population, and by the

beginning of Putin’s tenure seem to have become the

essential foreign policy element in restoring Russia’s

imperial might and prestige.

Yet, even at the height of their popularity at

the beginning of Putin’s tenure, these imperial and

implicitly pro-Iranian views were not consistent,

and the translation of even the strongest pro-Iranian

statements into real action was quite limited. And,

as time progressed, these views became increasingly

challenged. There were many reasons for this. One

was certainly the very composition of the Russian elite,

who were mostly Western-oriented by lifestyle and

economic interests and would hardly engage in actions

that could endanger them. But there was another

reason, the most important for our monograph.

The vision of Iran as the most important Russian

ally implies a good relationship with the Muslim

community, especially inside the Russian Federation.

By approximately the middle of Putin’s presidency,

there were growing signs of tension, increased by the

smoldering conflict in the Caucasus. As a result of this,

the elite’s approach to Iran became more irrational

and controversial. Furthermore, the image of Iran

as a potentially dangerous power was increasingly

disseminated by the end of the Putin presidency. A

positive image of Israel, a sworn enemy of Iran, and


growing Russian/Israeli contacts were some of the

salient manifestations of this trend. This flirtation with

Israel also related to ambivalent feelings toward the

Islamic world and a general sense of insecurity, which

increased as the result of an economic crisis and the rise

of the Taliban. In this case, Iran emerged not so much

as a mighty empire with which Russia could challenge

the United States but as a more moderate state, at

least in comparison to Muslim extremism. Taking a

20-25 year trend in toto, one can see the peak of the

idea of ethnic Russians, Russian Muslims, and Iranian

rapprochement standing together against the United

States in 1999-2001, with a steady subsequent decline

regardless of all the zigzags on the way. A reversal of

this trend seems unlikely.

Another related finding is the multilayer nature of

the ideological array. The evolution of a new outlook

does not lead to the removal of old ideological layers.

The old ones are not doomed to complete extinction

and could exist with the new one, which could create

the impression of a contradictory ideological picture

and complicate identifying a dominant trend. Yet this

trend exists and can be defined.

What are the practical implications of these trends,

in particular the Russian/Iranian relationship, for U.S.

foreign policy? Such questions should be placed in the

context of more general questions in regard to Russia’s

general foreign policy posture. With increasing oil

prices and general stability of the regime—at least

in comparison to that of the Yeltsin era—increasing

numbers of Western pundits assert that Russia is in

the process of resuming the long history of imperial

build-up. The Georgia war seems to have supported

this assumption. The recent Russian attempt to create

problems for the United States in Central Asia seems


to provide additional arguments for Russia’s imperial

aspirations. But this assumption should be taken with

a grain of salt.

Russia’s instability and cool relationship with the

Muslim world both inside and outside the former

USSR—the relationship with moderate and usually

pro-American regimes such as the Gulf states and

the Saudis is the only exception—parallels Russia’s

continuing strained relationship with the West. Russia

found little rapprochement in the past with the United

States, despite Putin’s good personal relationship

with Bush, nor with West/Central Europe, despite the

Russian elite’s close economic and personal ties with

this part of the world.

At the same time, Russia continues to be deeply

alienated and often openly hostile to Eastern Europe.

Russia’s position inside the former USSR is also

unstable, and the war with Georgia did not help

Russia’s influence in this part of the world. Russia

was not able to intimidate the former Soviet republics

enough to compel them to submit to Russia’s will. It is

also unlikely that it could be rich enough to buy their

good will, as it did with Kyrgyzstan, and even here

Russia was not successful; indeed Makas continued

to be used by the United States. Furthermore, the war

practically destroyed the last remnant of good will and

memories about Russia as a core of the common state to

which all of the republics belonged in the not so distant

past. The war was not supported by anyone, and led

to a sharp deterioration in Russia’s relationship with

some of its neighbors, such as Ukraine.

In general, the cool relationship between Russia and

other former republics of the USSR does not exclude

occasional cooperation, for example, the creation of a

joint military force to fend off a possible threat from the


Taliban. Such a relationship is quite pragmatic and, by

its very nature, fleeting. With not many friends either

in the West or in the East, including the Muslim world,

Russia, more than at any other time in its modern

history, is increasingly inward-looking and isolated.

The major preoccupation of the present Russian elite is

not building influence or direct expansion, but a search

for stability, regardless of assertive rhetoric.

Stability has become even more important in the

current economic crisis, which has affected Russia’s

perception of Iran. While the proponents of the Eurasian

paradigm saw Russia and Iran as friendly powers who

were ready to support each other even at the risk of

major war, the current Russian elite approach is quite

different. They court Iran for pragmatic and often

fleeting commercial interests. Russia’s flirtation with

Iran could also be intended to send signals to the United

States that Russia is displeased with certain American

actions—condemnation of Russia’s war with Georgia

or plans to install American missiles in East Europe.

The same pragmatism could well be the case with the

Iranians, who, one might surmise, would hardly take

Russian interests much to heart in planning their own

geopolitical posture.

Russia has been against the United States striking

against Iran, though even here it has not always been

consistent. The major concern for Russia was not so

much the increased American imperial presence in

the Middle East as that the war could lead to a sharp

rise of instability that would finally be transmitted to

Russia’s backyard. Consequently, easing an Iranian/

U.S. standoff would be approached positively, even

with tongue in cheek. Russia might be suspicious that

an U.S./Iran alliance could occur at Russia’s expense.

But easing the tension would be much appreciated if


Russia were seen as a part of the solution, and Russia’s

interests, such as a monopoly on supplying gas to

Europe, would not suffer. Russia would also be pleased

with a U.S. rapprochement with Iran in connection with

Afghanistan. Here, Russia sees Iran as a positive force

because it is a moderate state, at least in comparison

to the Taliban—a force that could help in dealing with

the Afghanistan quagmire. At the same time, U.S.

cooperation with both Russia and Iran could be in the

U.S. best interests. Indeed, contending with global

chaos in which terrorists and crime flourish might be

one of the most important problems with which the

United States will need to deal in the future.


1. Robert V. Daniel, “Russian Political Culture and the Post-

Revolutionary Impasse,” Russian Review, Vol. 46, No. 2, 1987, pp.


2. On Soviet privatization, see Terry Cox, From Perestroika

to Privatization: The Politics of Property Change in Russian Society,

1985-1991, Aldershot, United Kingdom: Avebury, 1996.

3. Gertrude E. Schroeder, “Economic Reform of Socialism:

The Soviet Record,” Annals of the American Academy of Political &

Social Science, Vol. 507, 1990, pp. 35-43.

4. James A. Gregor, “Fascism and the New Russian

Nationalism,” Communist & Post-Communist Studies, Vol. 31, No.

1, 1998, pp. 1-15.

5. Stalin, introduced to public discourse during the late 1980s

by Gorbachev opposition intellectuals, was, of course, seen as

a major villain who perverted wholesome Leninism. See Sigrid

McLaughlin, “Rybakov’s ‘Deti Arbata’: Reintegrating Stalin into

Soviet History,” Slavic Review, Vol. 50, No. 1, 1991, pp. 90-99.


6. Johanna Granville, “Crime That Pays: The Global Spread of

the Russian Mafia,” Australian Journal of Politics & History, Vol. 49,

No. 3, 2003, pp. 446-453.

7. On Lebed, see S. G. Simonsen, “Going His Own Way: A

Profile of General Aleksandr Lebed,” Journal of Slavic Military

Studies, Vol. 8, No. 31, 1995, pp. 528-546. See also the autobiography,

General Alexander Lebed: My Life and My Country, Lanham,

MD: National Book Network, 1999.

8. V. A. D’iakov, “Slavianskii vopros v poreformennoi Rossii

(1861-1895gg)” (“Slavic Question in Post-Reform Russia [1861-

1895 Years]”), Voprosy istorii, Vol. 1, 1986, pp. 41-56.

9. Frederick F. Ritsch, “Eastern-Western Polarization and

the Contemporary World,” Il Politico: Revista Italiana di Scienze

Politiche, Vol. 35, No. 1, 1966, pp. 193-200.

10. “Vom Panslavismus zum ‘Friedenskampf,’ Aussenpolitik,

Herrschaftslegitimation und massenmobilisierung im sowjetischen

nachkriegsimperium (1944-1953)” (“From Panslavism to the

‘Freedom Camp’, Foreign Policy, Power Legitimization, and Mass

Mobilization in Soviet Post-War Empire [1944-1953]”), Jahrbucher

für Geschichte Osteuropas, Vol. 56, No. 1, 2008, pp. 27-53; M. Iu.

Dostal’, “Slavistika: mezhdu proletarskim internatisionalizmom

i slavianskoi ideei (1941-1948)” (“Slavic Studies: Between

Proletariate Internationalism and Slavic Idea”), Sovetskoe

Slavyanovedenie, Vol. 2, 2007, pp. 17-31; Cyril Bryner, Russia and

the Slavs,” Current History, Vol. 28, No. 162, 1995, pp. 74-79.

11. David R. Maples and David F. Duke, “Ukraine, Russia, and

the Question of Crimea,” Nationalities Papers, Vol. 23, No. 2, 1995,

pp. 261-289; Sven Gunnar Simonsen, “You Take Your Oath Only

Once: Crimea, The Black Sea Fleet and National Identity Among

Russian Officers,” Nationalities Papers, Vol. 28, No. 2, 2000, pp.

289-316; Jakub M. Godzimirski, “Krim mellom sovjetisk identitet

og postsovjetisk geopolitikk,” Internasjonal Politikk, Vol. 55, No.

1, 1997, pp. 113-149; Gwendolyn Sasse, “Conflict Prevention in

a Transition State: The Crimean Issue in Post-Soviet Ukraine,”

Nationalism & Ethnic Politics, Vol. 8, No. 2, 2002, pp. 1-26.


12. Emil Giatzidis, “Bulgaria on the Road to European Union,”

Journal of Southeast European & Black Sea Studies, Vol. 4, No. 3,

2004, pp. 434-457; Ekaterina Nikova, “La modernization à travers

l’intégration de la Bulgarie et l’union Européenne,” Transitions:

Ex-Revue des Pays de L’est, Vol. 42, No. 1, 2001, pp. 107-122.

13. While the literature on Eurasianism (both historical

Eurasianism and its later modification) is vast, the best account

on its almost 100-year history can be found in Marlene Laruelle’s

Russian Eurasianism: An Ideology of Empire, Washington, DC:

Woodrow Wilson Center Press, 2008.

14. On classical/historical pre-World War II Eurasianism,

see V. G. Makarov, “Pax Rossica: The History of the Eurasianist

Movement and the Fate of the Eurasianists,” Russian Social

Science Review, Vol. 49, Issue 6, November/December 2008, pp.

49-72; Dmitry V. Shlapentokh, “Eurasianism,” Communist & Post-

Communist Studies, Vol. 30, Issue 2, June 1997, pp. 23, 129; Dmitry

V. Shlapentokh, ed., Russia Between East and West: Scholarly

Debates on Eurasianism, Boston, MA: Brill, 2007; Serguei Glebov,

“The Challenge of the Modern: The Eurasianist Ideology and

Movement,” 1920-29 unpublished Ph.D. dissertation; Mark Bassin,

“‘Classical’ Eurasianism and the Geopolitics of Russian Identity,”

Ab Imperio, Vol. 2, 2003, pp. 257-266; Svetlana Viktorovna Onegina,

“Postrevolutionary Political Movements in the Russian Expatriate

Community in the 1920s and the 1930s: Toward a History of

Ideology,” Russian Studies in History, Vol. 41, No. 1, 2002, pp. 38-


15. Nikolai Sergeevich Trubetskioy, Nasedie Chingiskhana (The

Heritage of Genghis Khan), Moscow, Russia: Agraf, 1999.

16. On Eurasianist views of the Mongols, see Slawomir

Mazurek, “Russian Eurasianism—Historiosophy and Ideology,”

Studies in East European Thought, Vol. 54, Nos. 1/2, March 2002,

pp. 105-123.

17. Ryszard Paradowski, Liliana Wysocka, and Douglas

Morren, “The Eurasian Idea and Leo Gumilev’s Scientific

Ideology,” Canadian Slavonic Papers, Vol. 41, No. 1, 1999, pp. 19-



18. Marlene Laruelle, “Lev Nikolaevic Gumilev (1912-1992):

biologisme et Eurasisme dans la pensée Russe” (“Lev Nikolaevic

Gumilev (1912-1992): Biologism and Eurasianism in Russian

Thought”), Revue des Études Slaves, Vol. 72, Nos. 1-2, 2000, pp. 163-


19. Caroline Humphrey, “Lev Gumilev: His Pretensions

as Founder of Ethnology and His Eurasian Theories,” Viktor

Shnirelman and Sergei Panarin, trans., Inner Asia, Vol. 3, No. 1,

200l, pp. 1-18.

20. Laruelle, Russian Eurasianism, p. 101.

21. Ibid.

22. The Jews were seen as agents of the West, mostly of

the United States, and in the context of centuries-long Russian

anti-Semitism, as major malefactors. Gumilev’s anti-Semitism

became quite a handy tool. On Gumilev’s anti-Semitism, see

Vadim Rossman, “Lev Gumilev, Eurasianism and Khazaria,” East

European Jewish Affairs, Vol. 32, No. 1, 2002, pp. 30-51.

23. The rather marginal role of Iran in the discourse of late

Soviet Eurasianism was related to the fact that classical/prewar

Eurasianists also had little interest in Iran, albeit Vasili Nikitin,

a Paris resident affiliated with the Eurasian movement, was a

professional Iranianist. Despite the fact that he spent most of his

emigré life as a bank employee—a job that provided a comfortable

living but which he hated—he was able to publish extensively on

Iran. See V. V. Bartol’d, Vasilli Petrovich Nikitin, La découverte de

l’Asie: histoire de l’orientalisme en Europe et en Russie (Discovery of

Asia: History of Orientalism in Europe and Russia), Paris, France:

Payot, 1947; Vasilii Nikitin, Les Kurdes, étude sociologique et

historique (Kurds: Historical and Sociological Etudes), Paris, France:

Impr. Nationale, 1956, which appeared in a Russian translation

in the USSR after Nikitin’s death; Vasilii Petrovich Nikitin, Kurdy

(Kurds), Moscow, Russia: Progress, 1964. Several of his works

were also published in Farsi.

24. On Dugin’s philosophy and biography, see Marlene

Laruelle, Aleksandr Dugin: A Russian Version of the European


Radical Right, Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson International

Center for Scholars, 2006; Alexander Höllwerth, Das sakrale

Eurasische Imperium des Aleksandr Dugin: eine Diskursanalyse zum

postsowjetischen russischen Rechtsextremismus (The Sacred Empire

of Alexander Dugin: Discourse and Analysis of Post-Soviet Russian

Right-Wing Extremism), Stuttgart, Germany, Ibid.-Verlag, 2007.

25. The “eternal present” was quite important in Dugin’s

designs. He regarded the transition from the philosophy of the

“eternal present,” based on the circle as the manifestation of a

metaphysical matrix of social and cultural existence, to the line,

which emphasizes endless change, as the watershed in European

history. This line-framed mentality led to further demarcation of

the “Atlantic” Western civilization from the Eurasian world, which

still clings to a healthy circle—the “eternal present” Weltanschaung.

Dugin elaborated on this idea in Evoliutsiia paradigmal’nykh

osnovanii nauki (Evolution of Paradigmical Foundation of Science),

Moscow, Russia: Arktogeia-tsentr, 2002.

26. Dugin shares the assumption with other members of the

elite, and of course the general public, that major recent events,

such as the collapse of the USSR and 9/11, are the products of

a hidden plot, and that apparent visible reasons are deceptive.

See Dugin, Konspirologiia: nauka o zagovorakh, tainykh obshchestvakh

i okkul’tnoi voine (Conspirology: The Science About Plots, Secret

Societies, and Occult War), Moscow, Russia: Arktogeia, 1993.

27. On the spiritual aspect of “Aryanization” not fully reduced

to plain biological faculties, see Dugin, Giperboreiskaia teoriia: opyt

ariosofskogo issledovaniia (Theory: The Attempt of Ariosobskogo),

Moscow, Russia: Arktogeia, 1993.

28. On the Bolshevik Revolution as actually the manifestation

of conservative revolution, see Dugin, Konservativnaia revoliutsiia

(Conservative Revolution), Moscow, Russia: Arktogeia, 1994.

29. On Kazakhstan’s role in Dugin’s designs, see Dmitry

Shlapentokh, “Dugin, Eurasianism, and Central Asia,” Communist

& Post-Communist Studies, Vol. 40, No. 2, 2007, pp. 143-156.

30. Aleksandr Dugin, Evraziiskaia missiia Nursultana Nazarbaeva

(Eurasian Mission of Nursultan Nazarbaev), Moscow: Evraziia, 2004.


On Nazarbaev’s Eurasianist proclivities, see also Laruelle, Russian

Eurasianism, pp. 152, 163, 177, 188.

31. Murat Laumulin, “Kazakhstan i Rossiia: vstupaia v XXI

vek” (“Kazakhstan and Russia: Entering the XXI Century”),

Vostok, Vol. 4, 2004, pp. 68-75.

32. Aleksandr Dugin, Osnovy geopolitiki. Geopoliticheskoe

budushchee Rossii (The Foundation of Geopolitics: Russia’s Geopolitical

Future), Moscow, Russia: Artogeia, 1997, pp. 239-241.

33. On Dugin’s relationship with Zyuganov, see Laruelle,

Russian Eurasianism, pp. 11, 109.

34. On Zhirnovsky’s rise and socioeconomic changes in

Russia, see Juhani Ihanus, “Zhirinovsky and the Swaddled

Russian Personality,” Journal of Psychohistory, Vol. 22, No. 2, 1994,

pp. 187-197.

35. D. V. Balakirev, “Brosok v Rossiiu ili s novym godom!”

(“Leap to Russia or Happy New Year!”), Kentavr, Vol. 2, 1994, pp.


36. Pierre James, “Zhirinovsky’s German Book,” Patterns of

Prejudice, Vol. 30, No. 3, 1996, pp. 49-63.

37. Sergei Blagov, “Russia’s Changing Iran Policy,”

International Relations and Security Network, March 14, 2007.

38. S. M. Zadonsky, Iadernaia programma Irana i Rossiisko-

Amerikanskie otnosheniia (Iran’s Nuclear Program and Russian-

American Relationship), Moscow, Russia: Institut Izucheniia Izrailia

i Blizhnego Vostoka, 2002, p. 91.

39. Ibid., p. 53.

40. Ibid., p. 52.

41. Ibid., p. 72.

42. Brenda Shaffer, “Partners in Need: The Strategic

Relationship of Russia and Iran,” Policy Paper 57, Washington,

DC: Institute for Near Eastern Policy, 2002, p. 71.


43. Zadonsky’s statement that Russia’s nuclear cooperation

with Iran was limited, at least at the beginning of the post-Soviet

era, was confirmed by Galia Golan, a leading Middle East specialist

from Israel:

In August 1992 Russia agreed to build a nuclear power

plant. A contract was signed in June 1993 but not

implemented. The Iranians wanted the completion of

the first of two reactors at Bushehr, the construction of

which had been begun by the Germans in the 1970s but

halted with the revolution and damaged in the Iran-Iraq


Galia Golan, “Russia and Iran: A Strategic Partnership?”

Discussion Paper 75, London, UK: Royal Institute of International

Affairs, 1998, p. 3.

44. Zadonsky, Iadernaia programma Irana, 1994, p. 35.

45. According to Zadonsky, up to 20,000 jobs in Russia were

later created by the Bushehr project. See Ibid., p. 94.

46. Ibid., p. 90; Golan, “Russia and Iran: A Strategic

Partnership?” p. 36.

47. Zadonsky, Iadernaia programma Irana, pp. 35-38.

48. Ibid., p. 76.

49. Ibid., p. 2.

50. Mark A. Smith, “The Russo-Iranian Relationship,” Brief

93, Shrivenham, UK: Conflict Studies Research Center, August

2002, p. 3.

51. Dugin, Osnovy geopolitiki.

52. Aleksandr Dugin, Absoliutnaia rodina (Absolute Motherland),

Moscow, Russia: Arktogeia-tsentr, 1999; Aleksandr Dugin, Misterii

Evrazii (Mystery of Eurasia), Moscow, Russia: Arktogeia, 1996.


53. Aleksandr Dugin, Filosofiia traditsionalizma: lektsii Novogo

Universiteta (Philosophy of Traditionalism Lectures of New University),

Moscow, Russia: Arktogeia-tsentr, 2002.

54. Kenneth Timmerman, Countdown to Crisis: The Coming

Nuclear Showdown with Iran, New York: Crown, 2005, pp 202-203.

55. One indication was that he continued to publish. See L.

G. Ivashov and B. S. Popov, Spravochnik po zakonodatel’stvu dlia

ofitserov Sovetskoi Armii Voenno-Moskogo flota (Law Reference for the

Officers of the Soviet Army and Navy), Moscow, Russia: Voennoe

izd-vo, 1998.

56. L. G. Ivashov, Marshal Iazov (rokovoi avgust 91-go) (Marshal

Iazov, Fateful August of ‘91), Moscow, Russia: Zhurnala Muzhestvo,


57. L. G. Ivashov, Rossiia i mir v novom tysiacheletii:

geopoliticheskie problemy (Russia and World in New Millennium:

Geopolitical Problems), Moscow, Russia: Paleia-Mishin, 2000.

58. L. G. Ivashov, Khoronit’ne speshite Rossiiu (You Should Not

Hurry Up to Bury Russia), Moscow, Russia: EKSMO: IAuza, 2003.

59. L. G. Ivashov, Rossiia ili Moskoviia?: geopoliticheskoe

izmerenie natsional’noi bezopasnosti Rossii (Russia or Moscovy? Geopolitical

Dimension of Russia’s National Security), Moscow, Russia:

EKSMO: Algoritm, 2002.

60. Laruelle, Russian Eurasianism, p. 11.

61. While Dugin was leader of the new party, he published a

continuous stream of articles and one heavy volume after another.

See Aleksandr Dugin, Proekt “Evraziia” (Project “Eurasia”), Moscow,

Russia: Iauza/Eksmo, 2004; Russkaia veshch’: ocherki natsional’noi

filosofii (Russian Thing: The Essays of National Philosophers), Moscow,

Russia: Arktogeia, 2001.

62. Laurelle, Russian Eurasianism, p. 10.

63. Noted, for example, by Mark Katz in his 2008 Kennan

Institute presentation; see “Event Summary: Russian Iranian

Relations in the Ahmadinejad Era,” Kennan Institute, February 29,


2008 (from Johnson’s Russia List); also see Kaveh L. Afrasiabi, “USA

Drives a Wedge Between Russia, Iran,” Asia Times, November 12,


64. Laruelle, Russian Eurasianism, p. 148.

65. Dugin, Osnovy Geopolitiki, p. 239.

66. Laruelle, Russian Eurasianism, p. 151.

67. Ibid., p. 148.

68. Vladimir Prbylovskii “Natsional-patrioty na vyborakh v

regionakh v 2000—pervoi polovin 2006” (“National-Patriotism

in the Election of Regions in 2000—First Half of 2006”), Russkii

natsionalizm: ideologiia i nastroenie (Russian Nationalism: Ideology

and Moods), Alexander Verkhovskii, ed., Moscow, Russia:

Informatsionno-analiticheskii tsentr Sova, 2006, p. 106.

69. Laruelle, Russian Eurasianism, p. 150.

70. Ibid., p. 121.

71. Some observers believed that Dzhemal already had

positive views at the beginning of the post-Soviet era. See Ibid., p.


72. Geider Dzhemal, “V mire: Traurnyi sbor v Tegerane” (“In

the World: The Morning Meeting in Teheran”), Islamskii komitet,

June 10, 2006.

73. Ivan Konovalov, “Iran: shans na vyigrysh” (“Iran: Chance

to Win”); “V Mire, Antiiranskii kulak ‘diadi Sema’,” (“Anti-Iranian

Fist of Uncle Sam”), both in Islamskii komitet, April 20, 2006.

74. “Sultanov: Ugrozy SShA? Iran stanovitsia liderom

Islamskogo mira” (“Iran Became the Leader of Islamic World”),

Islam.Ru, May 9, 2006.

75. These views are shared by other observers. “S’pomoshch’iu

Irana Rossiia mozhet zaiavit’ sebia kak o mirovoi derzhave”

(“With the Help of Iran, Russia Could be World Power”), Islam

News, April 19, 2006.


76. Razhaf Safarov, “Rossiia ne otlichalas’ postoianstvom v

iranskom voprose” (“Russia Does Not Demonstrate Consistency

in Iranian Question”), Regnum, March 28, 2006.

77. See, for example, Aleksandr Dugin, Geopolitika postmoderna:

vremena novykh imperii: ocherki geopolitiki XXI veka, (Geopolitics of

Postmodernity: the Time of New Empires: The Essays of Geopolitics of

XXI Century), Sankt-Peterburg, Russia: Amfora, 2007.

78. Igor S. Martynyuk, “Toward Understanding the Art of

Modern Diasporic Ideology Making: The Eurasianist Mind—

Mapping of the Imperial Homeland (1921-1934),” Journal of the

Interdisciplinary Crossroads, Vol. 3, No. 1, April 2006, p. 93.

79. On Russia’s unwillingness to exercise sanctions against

Iran during the Putin/Bush tenure, see “Russia to Step Up

Cooperation with Iran,” Itar-Tas, May 21, 2002; Neil King, Jr.,

“Bush to Pressure Putin on Iran,” Wall Street Journal, September

16, 2005; Saul Hudson, “U.S.’s Rice Fails to Win Russia Backing

on Iran,” AP, October 15, 2005; Judith Ingram, “U.S. Wants Russia

to Push Iran on Nukes,” AP, October 24, 2005; Joel Brinkley,

Security Council Rejects Calls for Sanctions on Iran,” New York

Times, March 30, 2006; “China Says Back EU Plan on Iran Stand-

Off,” Reuters, May 16 2006; Vladimir Kim, “Opasnye igry Irana”

(“The Dangerous Games of Iran”), Zerkalo Nedeli, August 18 2006;

Mark N. Katz, “Policy Watch: Russia, Iran, and the U.N.,” UPI,

September 25, 2006; “Russia Says Iran Sanctions Draft Goes Too

Far,” Reuters, November 3, 2006; “Russian Experts Believe Iran

Can’t Be Forced to Stop Its Nuclear Programme,” RIS Novosti,

November 9, 2006; “Russian Expert Warns of Danger of Regional

Nuclear Wars,” BBB Monitoring, November 14, 2006; Elena

Suponina, ”Lavrov: “My ne protiv sanktsii po Iranu” (“We Are

Not Against Sanctions Against Iran”), Vremia Novostei, December

4, 2006. On Russia’s reluctance to bring Iran to the Security

Council, see also M. Margelov, “Soviet Federatsii prilozhit vse

sily dlia aktivizatsii ekonomicheskikh kontaktov mezhdu Rossiei

i Iranom” (“The Council of Federation Will Do Their Best to

Intensify Economic Contacts Between Russia and Iran”), Prime-

Tass, February 21, 2007; Eckhart von Klaeden, “Russia’s Interests

Are Not with Tehran,” International Herald Tribune, March 8,

2007; “Russia’s Patience Wearing Thin with Ally Iran,” Reuters,

March 12, 2007; Mark Smith, “Russian Perception on the Iranian


Nuclear Issue,” Shrivenham, UK: Defence Academy of the United

Kingdom, Advanced Research and Assessment Group, 2007, p.


80. Dmitry Litovkin, “Iranu prodaem ‘Bubliki’, a ne S-300”

(“We Sell to Iran ‘Rounderackneli’”), Izvestiia.Ru, January 16,

2006; “Rossiia budet modernizirovat’ iranskie podvodnye lodki”

(“Russia Will Modernize Iranian Submarines”),,

April 21, 2006.

81. “Vashington nakazai Moskvu za uspekhi v torgovie

oruzhiem” (“Washington Punishes Moscow for the Successful

Selling of Weapons”), Izvestiia.Ru, August 7, 2006; “Rossiiskie

sistermy PVO pereidut k Iranu cherez Siriiu” (“Iran Will Get

Russian Weapons via Syria”),, May 21, 2007.

82. “U.S. Sanctions Threaten Russia Ties: Analysts” Reuters,

August 7, 2006; Nabi Abdullaev, “Kremlin Warns of Strain in U.S.

Ties,” Moscow Times, August 6, 2006.

83. Sergei Blagov, “Russia Seeks to Keep Pressure on United

States in Central Asia,”, October 25, 2005; SShA

obespokoeny uchastiem Irana v sammite ShOS” (“The USA is

Concerned Because of Participation of Iran in Summit of SCO”),

Inforos, May 18, 2006; “Ali Khamenei: Iran i Rossiia mogut sozdat’

svoi ‘gazovyi OPEK” (“Ali Khomenei: Iran and Russia Could

Create Their Own ‘Gas OPEC’”), Ria Novosii, January 29, 2007;

Smith, “Russian Perceptions on the Iranian Nuclear Issue,” p. 5.

84. “Russia Hits Back at U.S. Criticism of Iran Arms Deal,”

Reuters, December 7, 2005; Dmitry Litovkin, “Tegeran pokupaet

Rossiiskie ‘Tory’” (“Iran Buys Russians’ ‘Tors’”), Izvestiia.Ru,

December 24, 2005; Dmitry Litovkin, “Iranu prodaem ‘Bublik,’a

ne S-300” (“We Sell ‘Bublik’ But Not S-300”), Izvestiia.Ru, January

16, 2006; “Baluevskii: R F vypolnit obiazatel’stva po postavkam

voennoi tekhnika Iranu” (“Baluevskii: Russian Federation Will

Fulfill Obligation for Providing Military Technology to Iran”),

RIA Novosti, April 20, 2006; Rossiia ne budet predlagat’ svoi VS

v sluchae voennogo konflikta v Irane” (“Russia Will Not Provide

Its Military Force in Case of Military Conflict in Iran”), RIA

Novosti, April 20, 2006; “Ivanov: Rossiia postavit Iranu zenitnye

kompleksy Tor-MI” (“Ivanov: Russia Will Provide to Iran


Anti-aircraft Missiles Tor-Mi”), Praim-TASS, October 11, 2006;

Evelyn Leopold, “Russia Upbeat But Wants Changes on Iran

U.N. Measures,” Reuters, December 12, 2006; “Russia Says U.N.

Iran Draft Meets Main Concerns,” Interfax, December 19, 2006;

“Interview with Arab Satellite Channel Al-Jazeera,” Kremlin.Ru,

February 10, 2007.

85. Zadonsky, Iadernaia Programma Irana, p. 83; “Siuzhet:

Iranskoe iadernoe dos’e.Rossia podcherknula neobkhodimost’

sotrudnichestva Irana’s MAGATE” (“Subject: Iranian Nuclear

Dose. Russia Has Underlined the Importance of Cooperation of

Iran with MAGATE”),, February 22, 2006.

86. Ibid., p. 88.

87. Ibid., p. 2; Eugene B. Rumer, “Dangerous Drift: Russia’s

Middle East Policy,” Policy Paper 54, Washington, DC: Institute

for Near East Policy, 2000, p. 37.

88. “Russia and the Middle East: The Bear Is Happy to be

Back,” Economist, February 10-16, 2007.

89. “Iran perevodit finansovuiu problemu v politicheskuiu

ploskost’ ekspertk” (“Iran Translated Financial Problems in

Political Realm”), Izvestiia.Ru, March 9, 2007.

90. “Iran Warns It Can Finish Nuclear Plant Without Russia,”

AFP, September 25, 2006; “Golam-Ali Khaddad-Adel’: Busherskaia

AES dolzhna byt’sdana v srok” (“Galam-Ali Khaddad-Adel’:

Busherskaia AES Should Be Finished by Deadline”), IRNA,

February 21, 2007; Alliia Samigullina, “Peregovoru po Busheru

poluraspalis” (“The Interrogation in Regard to Bushehr Had

Almost Reached Dead End”), Gaceta.Ru, March 9, 2007 (from

Johnson’s Russia List).

91. “Saidi: Iran gotov predostavit’ dopolnitel’nye sredstva

dlia zaversheniia stroitel’stva AES v Bushere” (“Saidi: Iran is

Ready to Provide Additional Funds for Finishing the Building

of AES in Bushehr”), IRNA, March 9, 2006; “Rossiia otkazalas’

prekratit’ iadernoe sotrudnichestvo s Iranom” (“Russia Refuses

the Proposal to Stop Nuclear Cooperation with Iran”), Lenta.Ru,


April 21, 2006; “Russian Officials Rush to Deny Claims on Halt to

Iran NPP Work,” RIA Novosti, September 8, 2006 (from Johnson’s

Russia List).

92. The Russian side would openly state that the real reason

for the Bushehr problem is political, not financial. Kseniya

Solyanskaya, “Iran Not Convertible,” Gazeta.Ru, February 20,

2007 (from Johnson’s Russia List).

93. Elaine Sciolino, “Russia Gives Iran Ultimatium on

Enrichment,” New York Times, March 20, 2007.

94. “Russia Warns Iran of Irreversible Consequences,” AEP,

March 9, 2007; Stephen Boykewich, “Russian Construction of Iran

Nuclear Plan in ‘Crisis’,” AEP, July 21, 2007.

95. “Rossiia podderzhala Iran i otkazala SShA” (“Russia

Supports Iran and Rejects the USA”), Vek, April 22, 2006; “U.S.

Demands End to Russia-Iranian Nuclear Cooperation,” AFP,

April 19, 2006.

96. “Iran i Rossiia uregulirovali vopros o finansirovanii

stroitel’stva AES Busher” (“Iran and Russia Solve the Problem

of Building AES Bushehr”), IRNA, March 9, 2007; “Peregovory

Rossii Irana po AES Busher zakonchilis’ bezrezul’tatno” (“The

Interrogation Between Russia and Iran in Regard to AES Busher

Has Ended Without Results”), RIA, March 9, 2007; Kseniia

Solianskaia, “Iaderno-finansovo zamedlenie” (“Nuclear Financial

Slowdown”), Gazeta-ru, March 13, 2007.

97. Putin’s complaints of technical problems were not

groundless: “In particular, Russian experts are wrestling with the

metallurgical specifications of equipment sent to Iran during the

1970s, which does not match specifications for major primary—

and secondary—side components which the Russia-Iran pact calls

for Minatom to install now.” Mark Hibbs, “Russia-Iran Bushehr

PWK Project Shows Little Concrete Progress,” Nuclronics Week,

Vol. 39, September 26, 1996, p. 3.

98. “ Russia, Israel Sign Visa-free Agreement,” RIA Novosti,

March 20, 2008.


99. Dmitry Litovkin, “Ch’i drony v nashem nebe? Russkie i

izrail’skie bespilotniki vstupili v boi za rynok” (“Whose Drones

in Our Sky? Russian and Israelis’ Drones Have Engaged in Fight

for Market”), Izvestiia.Ru, February 6, 2009.

100. Aleksandr Sotnichenko, “Stanet li Iran vtorym Irakom?

Ili povtorit li Iran sud’bu Iraka?” (“Whether Iran Would be the

Second Iraq? Or, Would Iran Repeat the Fate of Iraq?”) Sankt-

Peterburgskii tsentr izucheniia sovremennago Blizhnego Vostoka,

December 28, 2005.

101. “Iran ugrozhaet Dzhordzhu Bushu otvetnym udarom”

(“Iran Threatened George Bush with Retaliatory Strike”), Izvestiia,

February 8, 2005.

102. “Novaia raketa so starym nazvaniem? Iran ispytyvaet

‘fadzhr-3’” (“New Rocket with Old Name? Iran Launches

‘fadzhr-3’”), RIA Novosti, January 4, 2006; Viktor Litovkin, “Tehran

Triangle: Russia, U.S. and Nuclear Power,” RIA Novosti, March

13, 2006; Alexsei Malashenko, “Udar SShA po Iranu neveroiaten”

(“The USA Attack Against Iran is Implausible”), Gazeta.gzt.Ru,

March 31, 2006; “Akhamdinezhad i armiia Irana obespechila

sebia peredovymi vooruzheniiami” (“Ahmadinejad and Iranian

Army Provide Iranian Army with Advanced Weapons”), Regnum.

Ru, April 18, 2006; Andrei Terekhov, “Tegeran idet po stopam

Phen’iana” (“Teheran follows Phenian Footsteps”), Nezavisimaia

Gazeta, June 14, 2006; Daniil Aizenshtadt, “Iran blokiroval

Persidskii zaliv” (“Iran Blocks Persian Gulf”), Gazeta.Ru, August

28, 2006; Il’ia Kramnik, “Zavtra uzhe pozdno” (“It Will Be Too

Late Tomorrow”), Iran News, September 7, 2006; “Iran zaiavil o

sozdanii samogo sovremennogo v mire korabel’nogo orudiia”

(“Iran Proclaimed About the Creation of the Most Sophisticated

in the World Navy Gun”), RIA Novosti, September 18, 2006; “V

Irane vskore poiavitsia na svet vtoroi klonirovannyi iagnenok”

(“The Second Cloned Lamb Will Emerge Soon in Iran”),

Regnum.Ru, September 19, 2006; “Iran: gotovnost’ predostavit’

raketnye tekhnologii sosediam” (“Iran: Ready to Provide Rocket

Technologies to Neighbors”), BBC.Ru, December 6, 2006.

103. Sergei Karaganov, “Iran: Last Chance But One,” RIA

Novosti, February 7, 2006.


104. “Iran Wants China In on Russian Uranium Plant Report,”

AFP, January 21, 2006; “Kitai budet okazyvat’ tekhnicheskuiu

pomoshch v osvoenii iranskogo mestorozhdeniia ‘Iadavarau,””Iran

News, April 12, 2007.

105. Aleksei Bausin, “Rossiia, Zapad ne sumeli dogovorit’sia

po Iranu” (“Russia, West Were Not Able to Find Common Ground

on Iran”), Izvestiia.Ru, January 17, 2006.

106. “Akhmadinezhad: Iran-edinstvennyi mirovoi lider”

(“Ahmadinejad: Iran is the Only Global Leader”),,

September 15, 2006.

107. Valerii Dzheirakhov, “Voina s Iranom: ‘drevotochtsy’

vmesto ‘Tamagavkov’” (“The War with Iran ‘Drevotochtsy’

Instead of ‘Tomogavks’,”), Segodnia.Ru, April 15, 2006.

108. On Russian observers of Saddam’s execution, see “V MID

Irana prognoziruiut eskalatsiiu naprizhennosti v Irake” (“Iranian

Ministry of Foreign Affairs Predicts Escalation of Tension in

Iraq”), Iran News, December 30, 2006; “Iran potreboval prodolzhit’

rassledovanie prestyplenii Khuseina” (“Iran Demanded to

Continue Investigation of Crimes of Hussein”), RIA Novosti,

January 4, 2007; Izaev Gumer, “Pochemyu byl kaznen Saddam

Khusein?” (“Why Was Saddam Hussein Executed?”), Sankt-

Petersburgskii tsenir izucheniia sovremennogo Blizhnego Vostoka,

January 9, 2007; Elena Shesternina, “Khuseina dvazhdy otpravliali

v ad” (“Hussein Was Sent to Hell Two Times”), Izvestiia.Ru,

January 10, 2007; Viktor Sumskoi, “Iran verbuet soiuznikov”

(“Iran Recruits Allies”), Gazeta.Ru, January 21, 2006.

109. Il’ia Azar and Aliia Samigullina, “Takuiu bol’shuiu

stranu sansktsiiami ne ispugaesh” (“Such a Big Country Could be

Scared by Sanctions”), Gazeta.Ru, August 22, 2006.

110. Radio interview with Alexei Arbatov, head of the Center

for International Security on Iran, Mayak Radio, March 13, 2006,, from Johnson’s Russia List.

111. Radio interview with Arbatov.


112. On Iran and North Korea, see “Russian Analysts

Divided Over Possibility Moscow Helped Iran with Missile

Technology, AP, October 16, 2005; “Izrail’: Iran poluchil raikety

sposobnye dostich Evropy” (Israel: Iran Gets Missiles That Could

Reach Europe”), RBK, March 27, 2006. See also “Iran Working

with N. Korea on Missiles,” Reuters, August 3, 2006; “Phen’ian

razrabatyvaet rakety sovmestno s Iranom, schitaiut koreiskie

uchenye” (“Phenian Work Together with Iran on Development of

Missiles, Assumed Korean Scientist”), August 4, 2006; “MID IRI:

Razvitiiu otnoshenii mezhdu Tegeranom i Pkheneianom meshaet

dolg KNDR Iranu,”, May 11, 2007; “Iran, North Korea

Seek to Boost Cooperation,” Reuters, May 11, 2007.

113. “Iran’s President Stands by Remarks,” Reuters, October

28, 2005.

114. This was pretty much supported by Dugin’s followers.

See Valerii Korovin, “Iran: Kontinental’naia startegiia-strategiia

pobedy” (“Iran: Continental Strategy—Strategy of Victory”),

Evraziia, June 5, 2006.

115. Aleksandr Dugin, “Amerikanskoe mogushchestvo ne

uravnoveshivaetsia bol’she nichem” (“American Mighty Might is

Not Counterbalanced by Anything”), Rusiran, May 17, 2006.

116. General Leonid Ivashov, “V poiskakh poliusa nadezhdy”

(“In Search of the Policy of Hope”), RIA Novosti, September 26

2004; “‘Iran kak i vse drugie gosudarstva vprave obespechit’ svoiu

bezopasnost’” (Iran As Any Other State Has a Right to Secure Its

National Security”), Russkaia Liniia, March 15, 2007.

117. Nabi Abdullaev, “Kremlin Warns of Strain in U.S. Ties,”

Moscow Times, August 6, 2006.

118. “Iran i Rossiiskaia Federatsiia: Leonid Ivashov:

bol’shinstvo rossiian na storone, Irana” (“Iran and Russian

Federation: Leonid Ivashov: the Majority of Citizens of Russia on

Side of Iran”), Iran News, April 26, 2006.

119. Atal Aneja, “Iran Backs Russia Over Georgia,” The Hindu,

August 31, 2008.

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