Iran and Belarus are drawing closer together, seeking to withstand heavy sanctions as they face continued pressure from the collective West.
At a March 13th meeting in the Iranian capital of Tehran, Belarusian President Alexandr Lukashenko and his Iranian counterpart, President Ebrahim Raisi, agreed to strengthen relations between their two countries. Lukashenko arrived in Tehran the previous evening for a two-day visit, his first in 17 years.
The two presidents signed a roadmap that lays out a series of areas in which the two nations would cooperate for the period 2023-2026. Both pledged such cooperation in the political, economic, consular, scientific, and technological fields but also in education, culture, art, media, and tourism.
As reported by local and international news agencies, Raisi noted that both countries shared a “common strategic vision,” and have the will to “strengthen cooperation” 30 years after the start of bilateral relations.
Following talks with Raisi, Lukashenko said that both nations were on the same page in their commitment to multipolarity—an implicit challenge to what both consider the current U.S.-dominated unipolar world.
I am pleased that we have similar positions and approaches to many issues on the international agenda. The main thing is that Belarus and Iran are committed to the idea of building a fair multipolar world.
The Belarusian leader went on to state that “no sanctions, no pressure could stop the movement of the Iranian people towards ensuring their independence and security.”
After his meeting with Raisi, Lukashenko held a talk with Iran’s leader, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei. During it, he praised Iran for its “amazing experiences” and the progress it had made during the sanctions period. He noted that if they “take advantage of the conditions of the sanctions properly, it can be used as an opportunity to make progress” and that he had made his trip to Iran in order to familiarize himself with Iran’s achievements.
The Belarusian leader went on to add that “the current difficult international situation has shown us who our true and fake friends are. We are determined to have special cooperation with our real partners.”
Ayatollah Khamenei said that countries that have been sanctioned by the U.S. in particular “must cooperate with each other and form a joint assembly to destroy the weapon of sanctions,” as he believed that “such a thing is achievable.”
Having compared notes on how to address such sanctions, neither politician made explicit reference to the war in Ukraine. A staunch ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin which supported Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine, Belarus has been placed under additional sanctions by both the EU and the U.S. While Belarus has not deployed its own military in Ukraine, it has permitted Russia to use its territory as a launching pad for attacks.
Sanctioned by the U.S. since 1979, Tehran—despite maintaining it takes a neutral position on Ukraine—has close ties with Moscow.
In December of last year, the U.S. began to issue warnings about the “dangerous impact” of military cooperation between Russia and Iran. In particular, Washington has accused the Islamic Republic of supplying drones to aid the former in its war effort.
While not denying it had supplied these, Iran rejects the accusation that these were intended for use in Ukraine.