The war in Ukraine is helping one country achieve its foreign policy and national security objectives, but it’s neither Russia nor Ukraine.

It’s Iran.

Iran is among Russia’s most vocal supporters in the war. This has little to do with Ukraine and everything to do with Iran’s long-term strategy vis-à-vis the United States.

As Russia’s war on Ukraine passes six months and continues eroding Russia’s manpower, military stores, economy and diplomatic connections, leader Vladimir Putin has opted for an unlikely but necessary Iranian lifeline to salvage victory in Ukraine and also in Syria where, since 2015, Russian soldiers have been fighting to keep Bashar al-Assad’s government in power.

Putin’s move has, in turn, helped Iran make progress in promoting its national interests.

Opposing the US everywhere

Since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, Iran’s leaders have believed the United States is constantly scheming to topple Iran’s government. They view leaders in Washington as the greatest threat and obstacle to promoting Iranian national interests – achieving economic self-sufficiency, international legitimacy, regional security, power and influence.

The fears of Iran’s leaders are not irrational – the long history of U.S. meddling in Iranian affairs, continuous open hostility between the two countries and decades of U.S. military buildup in close proximity to Iran greatly concern leaders in Tehran.

The U.S. has military forces in many Middle Eastern countries, with or without invitation. To promote its national interests, Iran is working to force the U.S. military out of the region and reduce U.S. political influence there.