On Tuesday, President Biden announced a ban on “all imports of Russian oil and gas and energy” in response to the invasion of Ukraine. Biden acknowledged that the ban is almost certain to drive up gas prices even further than they have risen in recent weeks, but blamed Moscow’s aggression for the harsh countermeasure. In response, the Kremlin has made forceful demands in the ongoing negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, insisting that any trade with Iran be exempt from sanctions recently imposed upon Russia. Patrick Wintour reports:
The Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov cited the “avalanche of aggressive sanctions [on Russia] that the West has started spewing out.” He went on: “We request that our U.S. colleagues . . . give us written guarantees at the minimum level of the secretary of state that the current [sanctions] process launched by the U.S. will not in any way harm our right to free, fully fledged trade and economic and investment cooperation and military-technical cooperation with Iran.”
The West is almost certain to reject [Lavrov’s] demand since it would open a huge loophole in the sanctions regime. It would then be up to Moscow whether to veto the nuclear deal altogether.
Russia also has a short-term strategic interest in scuppering or postponing the deal. Iran produces more than two million barrels of oil a day, and if these supplies were able to reach the markets, the upward surge in prices would be slowed. Russia, a large-scale oil producer, wants to drive the oil price up to turn the screw on Western economies but also to boost its own revenues.
More about: Iran nuclear deal, Russia, U.S. Foreign policy, War in Ukraine