Iran and Russia have signed scores of economic and energy deals as the two countries seek to replicate their successful security and military cooperation in efforts that could offset the impacts of Western sanctions on their economies.
Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak led a high-ranking delegation to major events and ceremonies in Tehran on Wednesday where Iranian and Russian ministers and senior officials signed contracts and memoranda of understanding (MoUs) worth billions of dollars.
The most notable of the deals was a $1.6 billion contract to finance and build the 162-kilometer Rasht-Astara railway, a key transport link in northern Iran which connects Russia and Northern Europe to Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean via railways.
President Ebrahim Raeisi watched on as the contract was signed between Iranian and Russian transportation ministers in a ceremony where Russian President Vladimir Putin also attended via a video link.
Russia’s First Deputy Energy Minister Pavel Sorokin and Iran’s Deputy Oil Minister Ahmad Assadzadeh signed two contracts and eight MoUs to boost scientific and technological cooperation in the oil and gas sector, according to media reports published on Wednesday.
An agreement was also signed between customs chiefs of Iran and Russia for mutual recognition of institutions of authorized economic operator, said the reports.
Novak, a former Russian energy minister, also attended Iran Oil Show, a prestigious annual event where Iranian and foreign companies show off their technological and logistical capabilities.
He said afterwards that Russia and Iran have major oil and gas projects in the works which cover cooperation on six oil and two gas fields. He said Russia’s state energy company Gazprom is particularly interested in joint development projects for Kish and North Pars gas fields in the Persian Gulf.
Iran and Russia have expanded their energy and economic cooperation since February 2022 when Russia’s energy sector came under Western sanctions because of the war in Ukraine.
Iran has been facing similar sanctions since 2018 when a former US government pulled out of a landmark international deal on Iran’s nuclear program.