In an interview with RT Arabic, Al Arabiya and Sky News Arabia TV channels published on Saturday and Sunday, Putin urged Iran’s neighbors to respect the country’s interests in the region.
“I know that there is no one looking for a showdown and that is true for both Saudi Arabia and the UAE. If we want to set a positive agenda, we need to acknowledge that our partners have their own legitimate interests.”
He called Iran a country that has “existed on its territory for thousands of years.”
“It is only natural that a big country like Iran, which has existed on its territory for thousands of years has its own interests. Persians and Iranians have lived here for centuries. And we should respect those interests,” Putin underscored.
He reiterated that Russia wants to maintain close cooperation with both Tehran and other countries in the region despite the tensions that have grown over the past years.
“As for Russia, we will do everything in our power to create the right conditions for positive change. Russia has cordial relations with Iran and is on very good terms with our Arab friends,” he said.
“If we put to good use the cordial relations that we have with Iran, the Arab world, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, I think we can come up with something that would be of interest to everyone.”
In the interview with the Arab broadcasters ahead of his first visit to Saudi Arabia, Putin also made an indirect reference to a Friday attack on an Iranian oil tanker sailing near Saudi Arabia’s western coast in the Red Sea.
He said all attacks on oil tankers in the regional waters should be condemned as they pose a major threat to the global security of energy.
Putin also said Iran’s missile program should be dealt with as a separate matter to its nuclear program.
“It is possible, and we should, discuss Iran’s missiles program... but the missile program is one thing and the nuclear program is another thing,” Putin said.
The Russian leader urged Iran to honor its commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on its nuclear program.
"My opinion is that Iran should better be committed to the letter and spirit of this deal," the Russian president said.
Putin called on his partners to be candid and not to turn a blind eye to the contradictions between the Middle East region’s states.
"But if we think that regional states have contradictions with Iran, then who can judge in this issue on whether Iran is committed to the JCPOA or not?" Putin said, stressing that a judge should be neutral. "This is first. Professionalism is second. And it should be recognized by the international community. And there is such a judge. This is the International Atomic Energy Agency," Putin noted.
"And it says in public, without hesitating, it says directly that Iran is fully meeting its obligations," the president said, noting that it was "not fair to make claims against Iran over something that it is not doing."
"This is not very fruitful because when any person or any country faces such injustice they start behaving in another way, not the way it was put on paper," he explained. "And if commitments on them are not honored, why should they meet them?"
Iran, the UN Security Council permanent members (Russia, the UK, China, the US, France) and Germany signed the JCPOA in 2015. The deal restricted Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for lifting UN sanctions and unilateral restrictions imposed by the US and the European Union.
On May 8, 2018, US President Donald Trump declared Washington’s withdrawal from the JCPOA. A year after, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced that Iran was suspending some its obligations under the nuclear deal. Iran said other parties to the deal, namely the Europeans, were not fully meeting their economic commitments and therefore this deal was senseless.
RT, Press TV, Reuters and TASS contributed to this story.