A Russian diplomat has said that Moscow is in talks with Europeans to be included in the trade mechanism created by three EU members to ease sanctions pressures on Iran.
The Russian Permanent Representative to the European Union Vladimir Chizov told Interfax news agency that Russia is holding talks with European countries on being included in the INSTEX trade mechanism with Iran.
The Instrument for Trade and Exchanges was set up by the United Kingdom, France and Germany in January to enable trade with Iran, as U.S. sanctions have generally stopped European companies from doing business with the Islamic Republic.
When last year the United States withdrew from the 2015 nuclear agreement, Iran began asking Europe to ignore the sanctions Washington was imposing and allow trade. After months of delays, Europe finally announced the establishment of INSTEX as a vehicle to enable some trade with Iran without technically violating U.S. sanctions.
Washington has opposed the trade mechanism and has warned European companies not to do business with Iran. So far, INSTEX has not resulted in any trade deals.
Chizov acknowledged that the mechanism has not been successful so far. "[We are] holding talks. They are not making it a secret that INSTEX was created and continues to be created with quite serious difficulties” he said and added, "However… they are not giving up plans to set this instrument in motion”.
Russia’s motivation to be involved in INSTEX might not be just related to its close relations with Iran. If Europe starts helping circumvention of U.S. sanctions, it could have future benefits for Russian entities which are also under some sanctions.