WASHINGTON — Russia appears to have a “schizophrenic” approach to Iran, viewing Tehran as a security threat while pursuing commercial deals with the country, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Thursday.
Gates told senators Russia has for years seen Iran as a worrisome regional power.
When he met with then-president Vladimir Putin three years ago in Moscow, the Russian leader “told me that he considered Iran Russia’s greatest national security threat,” Gates said.
“And yet they have these commercial interests in Iran that go back more than 20 years,” he told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Asked by a senator about the apparent contradiction, Gates said “you’ve just put your finger on a kind of a schizophrenic Russian approach to this.”
Russia’s policies reflected “this balancing,” said Gates, a former CIA director who analyzed the former Soviet Union at the spy agency.
“They recognize the security threat that Iran presents, but then there are these commercial opportunities, which, frankly, are not unique to them in Europe,” said Gates, referring to European business ties to Iran.