MOSCOW – July 20, 2019 – Russian President Vladimir Putin said he was seriously concerned about the confrontation between the United States and Iran over its geographical proximity to Russian borders.
“It worries us a lot because it is happening close to our borders. It can destabilize the situation around Iran, affect some countries with which we have close relations, cause additional waves of refugees in large numbers, cause significant damage to the global economy and world energy industry,” Putin said in an interview with American film director Oliver Stone.
Tension between the United States and Iran has increased. US President Donald Trump has abandoned a nuclear deal sealed with European powers, Russia and China, which has conditioned sanctions against Tehran in return for assurances that the country’s nuclear program will be peaceful. Washington has also imposed sanctions on Iran.
Tehran then called for action from other countries to prevent sanctions from affecting its economy and called into question the possibility of no longer obeying the uranium enrichment limits of the nuclear deal.
On Friday, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) seized the British tanker Stena Impero in the Strait of Hormuz and said the vessel had violated international navigation legislation.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) said on Friday it had seized the British tanker Stena Impero in the Strait of Hormuz after the vessel failed to comply with international shipping legislation.
According to information published by Iran’s public television station, the tanker was captured at the request of the authorities of the Iranian province of Hormozgan and handed over to the authorities to take the necessary legal measures.
Aida according to Reuters, an editor of the British newspaper Sanday Times said on Twitter that an emergency committee meeting is underway to investigate the episode.
Data from the Refinitiv company indicate that the Stena Impero vessel is a British flag, owned by Stena Bulk, and was bound for Saudi Arabia. The Refinitiv tracking shows the tanker making a sharp turn in the Strait of Hormuz, at the southern entrance to the Gulf, and heading towards Iran.
The seizure of the vessel was confirmed by Stena Bulk in a statement on the company’s website . The Swedish company says 23 sailors are on board and that the ship was approached by “unidentified small boats and a helicopter” and that it lost communication with the tanker. There are no reports of injuries, says Stena Bulk.
Relations between Iran and the West are increasingly strained after Britain confiscated the Iranian oil tanker Grace 1 in Gibraltar accusing the vessel of failing EU sanctions that prohibit the sale of oil to Syria.
The seizure of the British tanker Stena Impero comes hours after the Supreme Court of Gibraltar announces the 30-day extension of the Iranian tanker’s detention.
Iran has called the seizure of its vessel “maritime banditry”.
With Russia backing Iran, it is suggesting that Moscow is willing to intervene, just as it did in Syria, to defend its ally.
Russian National Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev was the sole voice defending Iran in historic trilateral talks in June alongside White House national security adviser John Bolton and Israeli National Security Council Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat in Jerusalem. As the U.S. and Israel hardened their stances against their mutual adversary amid heightened tensions in the Middle East, Russia has sought de-escalation and dismissed attempts to liken Iran to jihadis such as the Islamic State militant group (ISIS).
“In the context of the statements made by our partners with regard to a major regional power, namely Iran, I would like to say the following: Iran has always been and remains our ally and partner, with which we are consistently developing relations both on bilateral basis and within multilateral formats,” Patrushev said following the meeting that lasted more than two and a half hours, according to the state-run Tass Russian News Agency.
“This is why we believe that it is inadmissible to describe Iran as the major threat to the regional security and, moreover, to put it on par with the Islamic State or any other terrorist organization,” he added.