Is Russia taking advantage of US sanctions against Iran, to further its own geostrategic interests in the region? Of course the phrase ‘taking advantage’ is loaded with emotional and moral content. The divide and conquer strategy works not only in politics, but also in media and on the battle-field. One of the present tactics of the Atlanticist bourgeoisie is to present the line that Russia has been able to take advantage of US sanctions against Iran. Most recently, this view was promoted in an article by one of the major publications of predatory capitalism, the US based Wall Street Journal.
The article underscores that Moscow has essentially stolen customers who were driven out of business with Tehran, after the introduction of American sanctions count Iran, thus increasing its oil exports. The two countries produce similar types of crude oil, making the transition relatively easy for refineries, the paper added.
In reality, Moscow has opposed sanctions against Iran at all levels – diplomatically, politically, in business dealings, at the UN, and on the battle-field in Syria: the Syrian conflict is widely understood to be the opening for an eventual subjugation of Iran. The fact is, Moscow helps Tehran deal with restrictions by buying Iranian oil for domestic consumption while exporting its own oil, first to Europe.
But to spin this, the pro Imperialist American media also attempts to problematize the fact that Russia will buy Iranian oil by barter, paying with industrial equipment and food products. Yet this would seem to be the best way to manage transactions, given that currency values fluctuate far more than the use-values of actual commodities. Is the Wall Street Journal suggesting that trade is inherently problematic? This would be an interesting claim, coming from the daily which promotes itself as the standard bearer of capitalism, and trade, that is, barter.
To wit, Moscow is producing record oil values in the last 30 years, ranking first in this area, the WSJ pointed out. In October, the country extracted 11.41 million barrels per day, 4.3% more compared to the same period of 2017.
Helping Iran, Russia is replacing this country in the international oil market, and this is openly admitted by The Wall Street Journal. So in what sense is this ‘taking advantage’, in the sense that this phrase has morally negative overtones? Moscow has already been able to offset the reduction in Iranian fuel exports to Turkey, China and South Korea.
Sanctions against Iran
On November 5th, the sanctions reintroduced by the United States against Tehran came into force before the signing of the Joint Global Action Plan, also known as the Iranian nuclear agreement. Donald Trump criticized the Plan on several occasions and in May announced the unilateral exit of the United States from the agreement, accusing Iran of enriching uranium and developing prohibited weapons and stating the reintroduction of sanctions against Iran.
The first package of restrictions came into effect on August 7. The new sanctions affect first the Iranian oil sector, whose exports the American authorities have promised to “reduce to zero”.
Earlier, the WSJ reported that, after the sanctions came into effect, Russia would buy Iran’s oil and sell it as if it were her own.