Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the ensuing punitive measures, several countries replaced the US and Western countries as Moscow’s top exporters, but Iran lagged behind.
According to a Monday report published by 90eghtesadi, a website close to the Islamic Republic’s hardliners, Turkey, Iran, India, Brazil, and the UAE vied for a share in the Russian market, but Ankara’s exports were 14 to 18 times higher than Tehran’s.
The report claimed that Turkey's exports to Russia from February 2022 – when the war started -- to January 2023 reached nearly $10 billion, but the Islamic Republic exported only about $709 million during the timespan. Turkey’s monthly exports to Russia were about seven time more than Iran’s before Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine but increased 14 to 18 times in different months during the past year.
The data of Russia's trade with different countries show that Iran has not been able to make good use of the opportunity created by Russia's war to expand its trade ties, the report said.
According to the monthly chart published by the website, in some months, the exports of Iranian goods to Russia hit lower than the monthly exports before the Russian aggression. The released data do not include any details about the commodities imported by Russia.
Comparison between monthly exports of Iran (red) and Turkey (blue) to Russia in million dollars
The Islamic Republic did not manage to gain from the international measures aimed at further isolating Moscow but has faced several rounds of sanctions for supplying drones and missiles for the Russian invasion. Iran has supplied hundreds of Shahed and other drones to Russia since mid-2022, and although Ukraine is capable of shooting down most of the slow-moving UAVs, Russia relies on the Iranian weapon to swarm Ukraine’s air defenses.
The United States and its European allies have imposed a series of sanctions on Iranian individuals and companies involved with the drone program and shipments of the weapon to Russia. They have also warned Tehran that one of the conditions to restart nuclear talks is ending its weapons supplies to Russia. A nuclear agreement between Iran and the West could suspend most economic sanctions and boost the country’s economy.
Iranian drone shot down in Ukraine in October 2022
In addition to Tehran’s failure in securing a share of the Russian market, a document obtained by Iran International revealed in February that Russian companies are not willing to invest in oil and gas projects in southern Iran, despite joint plans. In a top-secret letter addressed to First Vice-President Mohammad Mokhber, Deputy Foreign Minister for Economic Diplomacy Mehdi Safari said that many development projects that were supposed to be carried out by Chinese and Russian companies have been stopped, calling on the government to take measures to re-start the projects.
Tehran keeps boasting about its long-term strategic cooperation deals with Russia and China, but such deals have not yet borne any tangible results, despite several meetings among senior officials of the countries. Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian met with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, on an official visit to Moscow late in March to exchange views on signing a long-term strategic agreement, Tehran’s nuclear issue and the war in Ukraine. Moreover, some Iranian observers suggest that the West is not likely to respond to Iran's renewed calls for nuclear talks unless Tehran stops helping Moscow in its war.