Russia and Iran not as close as they pretend

When Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi recently posed for a photo-op with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, the top-level meeting in Moscow was trumpeted by state media as a bilateral “turning point,” “new chapter” and even “diplomatic triumph.”

But a closer examination of the optics suggests something unspoken is still diplomatically amiss. Critical observers of the January 19 meeting noted that Raisi’s arrival at the Kremlin was not received by a guard of honor befitting his status as a foreign leader.

In the meeting room, the two countries’ flags were not placed, which the same observers noted is a rarity for Putin’s meetings with heads of government and even a possible breach of diplomatic protocol. Nor was a joint press conference held after the meeting, which was held at a long table physically separating the leaders and lasted for only 15 minutes.

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