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Tehran’s Ties With Beijing and Moscow

In 2021, the Islamic Republic signed a long-term agreement with China, and is set to renew a long-term agreement with Moscow, putting Iranian ties with the two powers in the spotlight. The Supreme Leader and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) have long favored a “Look to The East” approach, aspiring to form strategic ties with Russia and China, especially in the face of Western and U.S. pressure. The incoming administration of President Ebrahim Raisi is in line with that outlook. Reformists and centrists have not opposed good ties with Russia and China, even as they are more pessimistic toward Russia and have preferred better ties with the West. The reality of Tehran’s ties with the two countries, however, has not always matched joint statements in strategic agreements and rhetoric. At the same time, Iran has cooperated on certain strategic matters with the two states. For instance, it coordinated with Russia for joint military intervention in Syria. China has also bought Iranian oil at a discount in the face of U.S. sanctions during its trade spat with Washington.