Alwaght- The Russian President Vladimir Putin has arrived in Tehran on Monday amid splashy changes on the world stage following Ukraine crisis. This is his fifth visit to Tehran since he took the office as prime minister and then president in the early 2000s. He is in Iran for tripartite summit with Iran and Turkey discussing peace process in Syria. However, other issues are expected to be discussed. Putin's Iran trip comes as his Iranian counterpart Sayed Ibrahim Raisi visited Moscow in late December and the two countries are pushing for strengthened cooperation at economic and political levels.
With the US and its allies trying to increase the pressure against Russia and Iran and isolate them as their rivals, the Russians are also seeking to increase cooperation with their allies in the region and the world in order to neutralize antipathetic moves and sanctions of the West and in this course they consider Iran as one of their strategic partners with the help of which they can empower the Eastern front against the West. The frequent visits of Russian officials to Iran in recent months bear witness to this aim.
One of the attractions of Putin's Iran visits which are massively covered by global media, is his direct meetings with the Leader Sayed Ali Khamenei. This visit is motivating us to review his past visits with the Leader apart from political affairs.
Putin's devotion and respect to the Leader
Putin had previously visited Tehran four times and met with the Leader, and these meetings speak of a sincere nature and respect for the position of the Iranian Supreme Leader. Putin's respect and interest in him could be seen in his first visit to Iran. When Putin came to Iran in 2006 for the first time, he met with the Leader and was fascinated by his perfections and guidance, to the extent that after returning home, in a conversation with the Russian media, describing the personality of the Leader, he said: "I have not seen Christ, but I have heard and read about him in the Bible. I saw Christ in the leader of Iran. There is a great sage sitting in Iran that I never thought he would be so visionary. He is a wise man and a scientist who makes decisions and regulates all the policies of Iran."
Putin's way of approaching the Leader reveals his special respect for him. Putin approaches the Iranian spiritual leader so devotionaly and full of respect, not formally and politician-style. The special respect that Putin has for the Supreme Leader can be clearly seen in his second visit to Tehran in 2014, when he met Ayatollah Khamenei immediately after his arrival in Iran and before the formal reception ceremony, and this was widely covered by the regional and Western media.
A look at Putin's approach in meetings with world officials makes clear the difference of his approach to the Iranian Leader. In meetings with world leaders, Putin talks from a position of power but when it comes to meeting the Leader even his sitting gives away his special interest in him and approaches him at the highest level of respect. Images published from his meetings with American leaders show that he approaches them like low-level leaders and it is only in the front of the Iranian leader that he shows humbleness.
When he visited Tehran in 2014, Putin presented to Ayatollah Khamenei one of the oldest manuscripts of the Holy Quran, which was kept in the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. This copy belongs to the period of the Umayyad dynasty who ruled the Muslim world 13 centuries ago. The donation of such a spiritual treasure to the Leader is expressive of Putin's special devotion to him. After all, such books are a precious legacy that no country is willing to simply present them to other countries.
Putin's devotion does not show itself only in bilateral meetings and he always praises the Leader's role and position in Iran and the region. Once in an interview with an Arab media outlet, he pointed to Iran's role in victory of Syria and Iraq over the foreign-backed terrorists, saying: "I can plainly tell you that over the past years and even now Iran could trade in the market of politics many of its goals and ideals in the region. It could trade Syria, Iraq, Hezbollah with its enemies but it did not do so and will not. Certainly, the Leader has a determining role in this policy. I can definitely tell you that if it was not for Iran and its leader's decisions for supporting the resistance in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine, none of them could resist."
US domineering approach to its allies
If we compare Iran-Russia relations as two great allies on regional and international arena to those of the US with its allies especially Saudi Arabia, we can see a distinction. While there is a respectfull relationship between Tehran and Moscow, there is a master-servant relationship between Washington and Riyadh and others, with one side ordering and the other side listening and being obedient.
When traveling to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, for example, the American officials talk from a position of power with their allies, driven by their international power. The White House leaders always deem Arab rulers their subjects who only implement Washington's plans and policies in the region and even treat these rulers in a humiliating way. In other words, their relationship is imperialist-dependent.
Though Saudi leaders are all servile to the Americans and act as their infantry in the region, Washington is far from valuing their services. Biden's predecessor Trump, for instance, called Saudi Arabia a "milk cow" whose only job is to inject petrodollars into the American economy by massive arms purchases and investments. Given this relationship, even if the Americans travel to the region, it is for milking their allies by selling more weapons and not bolstering them.
Iranian-Russian relations have been in the best possible form in the past decades and even stronger in recent months. Aside from partnership, Putin's respect and devotion for Iran's Leader and taking his advices in the politics have not been without influence on improvement of bilateral ties.