Interview with Viktoria Panova

Political analyst Victoria Panova from Moscow University of International Relations takes a look at the possible outcome of the Russian President’s visit to Iran.

Russia Today: How is the visit being perceived by the West?

Viktoria Panova: I wouldn’t say there is ‘single’ West. We should distinguish between European countries and the U.S. Europeans are quite cautious about it, there is really a difference in approaches as we have heard from Angela Merkel. She, as well as the leaders of other European countries, supports tougher resolution on Iran for non-compliance, while Russia is rather in for more diplomatic means when dealing with the crisis. Despite caution, they welcome Vladimir Putin’s visit to Iran. With the U.S., it is a bit more difficult. There are several reasons for that. First of all, America is the biggest global player. It is playing the role of a peacemaker in the Middl East, has been trying to act as a mediator for quite a while, but not always successfully. We have not seen an end to any conflict so far. And the U.S. or other countries trying to resolve the issue are not to be blamed, because it is really a very difficult problem. But for the U.S., it is not very convenient to have any breakthrough now because they are very firm concerning having negotiations with Eastern European countries on setting up an ABM system there. The formal reason for it is that it’s not against Russia, but against Iran. If there is an agreement reached, there will be no more reason to push for the anti-missile defence system.

RT: What do you think Mr Putin wants to get out of the visit?

V.P.: I am quite sure that Mr Putin, first of all, as he is coming to the end of his presidential term, is hoping for some grand announcement. I am optimistic about it because I know that Mr Putin does not go anywhere unless there is some pre-set decision. But at the same time, I am very cautious because I know that the Iranians are very tough negotiators and they can switch their mind at the very last moment. For example, they might say – ‘ok, we agree to temporary cessation of uranium enrichment but on the following conditions’ – that would be unacceptable to Russia, and in this case the agreement will not be reached. Now, there is hope that there will be a great announcement, but it depends on the Iranians at this moment.

RT: The Caspian Sea is still a thorny issue for the countries bordering it. Do you expect any breakthroughs at the summit?

V.P.: I do not expect any breakthroughs at the summit. I only see that there will be a political declaration that will facilitate further talks on the issue, but not a real breakthrough at this point.