Russian demands that Ukraine sanctions should not impact its dealings with Iran have sparked controversy in Iranian media and calls to save the nuclear deal.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has demanded guarantees from the United States to ensure that sanctions imposed on Russia will not affect trade between Tehran and Moscow has led to media warning the government against a "Russian Trap" and officials have been trying to make comments to save face.
Other observers such as Eurasia analyst Hassan Beheshtipour and IRNA chief Mohammad Reza Nowruzpour have also talked about the ‘Russian Trap’ in an interview with Khabar Online website.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said on Monday, March 7, that Iran will not allow any foreign element to undermine Iran's national interests in the Vienna talks.
This comes while Russia's ambassador in Tehran, Levan Dzhagaryan, told reporters that Iranians should not take reports by foreign radios too seriously. He was mindless of the fact that the comment was made by Lavrov, not any foreign radio.
Reformist daily newspaper Arman on Monday called on the Iranian government not to allow the nuclear deal with world power to be taken hostage by Russia, the country that wishes to use it as a bargaining chip in the talks with the West over Ukraine.
Iranian diplomat Hamid Abutalebi, a centrist politician, also called on the government to strike a strategic balance through direct negotiations with the United States in order to spoil the game that has been started by Russia.
Elsewhere Arman quoted Pir Mohammad Mollazehi, a seasoned political analyst, as saying that "it is time for a negative balance approach," adding that the Russians have an interest in boosting the tensions between Iran and the West.
Moderate conservative news website Khabar Online reported that Russia is offering its crude oil in the market with eye-catching discounts, and warned the Iranian government that Russia wishes to replace Iran in oil deals with China. Currently China is almost Iran's only customer and Iran reportedly sells its oil to China at a discount price. This comes while with the increased risk in transactions involving Russian oil, Iran is facing new opportunities in the global market for oil.
Hamid Hosseini, an energy market analyst and a member of the Iranian Chamber of Commerce told Khabar Online said that many countries have reduced their oil purchases from Russia without declaring any sanctions against Moscow. At the same time, insurance companies charge higher premiums for tankers carrying Russian oil, he said.
Hosseini said that the situation has made Iran effectively Russia's rival in the oil market. He added that Russia might offer its oil at a further discounted price in order to replace Iran in crude exports to China. He explained that the discount offered by Russia is twice as much the discount Iran is giving to Beijing.
Asked if under the circumstances an agreement with the United States is feasible, Hosseini said he believed a deal is within reach, and agreement may be finalized before the Iranian New Year in less than two weeks.
Hassan Beheshtipour, the Eurasia analyst, in his interview with Khabar online warned the Iranian government to adopt independent policies and avoid relying on foreign powers in order to protect the country's independence and territorial integrity.