NATO Expansion, Disregard for Russian Security Interests Behind Ukraine Crisis, Iran Says
The Western alliance has carried out several waves of eastward expansion, swallowing up every former member of the defunct Warsaw Pact, three republics of the former Soviet Union, and four ex-Yugoslav republics. Before the escalation of the crisis in February, bloc officials had said repeatedly that Ukrainian membership was a done deal.
NATO's ceaseless expansion toward Russia, and the West's disregard for Moscow's security considerations, are responsible for the crisis in Ukraine, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh has said.
"We think that the root of what we see today lies in [NATO's] expansion and an ignorance of the realities of Europe - ignorance of the political and security considerations of a number of countries, especially Russia, as well as agreements that were concluded decades ago," Khatibzadeh told Sputnik.
The spokesman said Iran intends to resume its effort to mediate between Moscow and Kiev, noting that Tehran "will be able to contribute as much as we are able and as far as both sides are prepared. The Islamic Republic of Iran, God willing, will begin a new round of its efforts" to resolve the conflict.
Khatibzadeh stressed that both Moscow and Kiev take the idea of Iranian mediation seriously. At the same time, he noted that the crisis in Ukraine has not destroyed the "strategic" ties between Moscow and Tehran.
"Relations between Iran and Russia are strategic in nature and we will not allow any problem destroy this relationship. We will try to use these strategic relations with Moscow and our good relations with Kiev to end this conflict and the damage that the peoples of this region and the region itself are suffering," Khatibzadeh said.
Iran has been pushing for a ceasefire and a 'political and democratic' solution to the crisis in Ukraine since February, while simultaneously expressing firm agreement with Moscow's concerns about NATO expansion. In March, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said the Islamic Republic would like to see an immediate halt to the fighting, but slammed the US "mafia regime" for meddling in Ukraine's affairs, saying it was the "root cause" of the current crisis.
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