Tehran’s hardliner daily Kayhan, linked to the Supreme Leader, went out of its way on June 6 to defend Russia as an ally of Iran against recent criticisms.

Recently some Iranian politicians and pundits have criticized Iran’s close ties to Russia and have hinted that the lack of a nuclear agreement with the West is because of excessive reliance on Moscow.

Foremost among those is former lawmaker Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh who has been blaming Russia for the failure of Iran's nuclear talks with the West.

In several articles and interviews Falahatpisheh has argued that Russia is the main obstacle on the way of the revival of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The immediate trip to Moscow by Iran’s chief negotiator after two days of indirect talks in Qatar with US envoy Rob Malley led to a lot of criticism in Iran by those who resent Moscow’s influence over Tehran and believe Russia is working against a nuclear agreement with Washington.

Criticism against Russia intensified when in March the nuclear talks came to a halt after Moscow demanded exemptions from Western sanction in its dealings with Iran. This was seen by many Iranians as undue interference by Moscow and a violation of Iran’s national interests.

Hossein hariatmadari, the hardline editor of Kayhan daily and a staunch Khamenei loyalist

The Kayhan, which is linked to and maintained by the office of Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, asked the lawmaker: "Why do you say Russia has kept the negotiations in suspension? Was it Russia or the United States that violated the JCPOA and withdrew from the nuclear deal imposing 1700 sanctions on Iran?"

The daily further asked: "Is it Russia or the United States that must commit not to break its promises again? Is it Russia or the United States that needs to offer guarantees to Iran?"

In his latest interview, Falahatpisheh, a former member of the Iranian parliament's National Security and Foreign Relations, told reformist daily Shargh that "the Islamic Republic should distance the nuclear deal from the war in Ukraine. It is only then that an agreement can take place."

Former lawmaker Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh

Falahatpisheh reiterated that "The meeting in Doha showed Iran is stuck in the quagmire of Russia's war in Ukraine." He further charged that it was Russia's interests that prevented an agreement between Iran and the United States."

"The interests of the Islamic Republic of Iran were totally ignored in the meeting in Doha," Falahatpisheh stressed, adding that "Iran's interests were sacrificed to secure Russia's interests.

"At the same time, other countries, including some of the Persian littoral states were emboldened to intervene in the nuclear talks and all that is a direct outcome of Iran's behavior. But the nuclear negotiations have only two main sides: Iran and the United States," Falahatpisheh said.

The Kayhan claimed that even EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell has said that Russia was not against an agreement between Iran and America in Doha.

The hardliner daily asked, "Why instead of protesting against the United States' treason and admitting that the United States is not after a balanced and useful agreement with Iran Mr. Falahatpisheh levels accusations against Russia?"

The daily then accused Falahatpisheh of serving US interests and suggested that he has been blackmailed by Washington to make these comments against Russia.

Meanwhile, the Kayhan, a staunch supporter of Russia's policies and its war on Ukraine, published an editorial by hardline commentator Sadollah Zarei that Iran should take lessons from Ukraine and never be dependent on other countries; an argument that contradicts the daily's praise for Iran's often unilateral alliance with Russia.

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