After days of Iranian regime officials openly supporting the Russian war of occupation against Ukraine, regime supreme leader Ali Khamenei tried to soften his regime’s position and justify his support for a war that has been condemned worldwide.
In a speech, on Tuesday, March 1, Khamenei said, “I think that Ukraine is a victim of American policies. We are of course against the destruction of nations, the killing of people, and the destruction of the infrastructure of nations. We do not approve that.”
Without making any mention of the aggressor, Khamenei tried to shift the narrative toward blaming the United States. “The U.S. brought Ukraine to this point. The U.S. interfered in the internal affairs of that country and assembled rallies against governments, concocted velvet movements, colorful coup d’états, brought U.S. Senators among protest rallies, removed one government, and replaced with another one, and naturally, this is what it led to,” Khamenei said.
While in recent days, the people of Ukraine have shown admirable resilience against the occupation of their Nation, Khamenei—whose regime lacks popular legitimacy, is loathed in Iran and has only maintained his hold on power through violence and repression—said, “The people are the most important asset of governments. Had the people come to the scene in Ukraine, the government and people of Ukraine would not be in its current state. The people did not intervene because they do not believe in the government.”
It is worth reminding that a few hours after Russia’s attack on Ukraine, regime president Ebrahim Raisi in a call with Vladimir Putin said, “The expansion of NATO toward the east causes tension… and is a huge threat to the security of independent countries in different regions.” Raisi also expressed hope that “what is happening will be in the interests of nations and the region.”
In the same vein, regime foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and Friday Prayer leaders, who speak on behalf of Khamenei, justified and supported the invasion of Ukraine.
“The Ukraine crisis has its roots in the provocative actions of NATO,” Amirabdollahian said.
Foreign ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh said, “What is happening in this region today is the result of the provocative political, economic, military, and cultural actions.”
Ahmad Khatami, the Friday Prayer leader of Tehran, said, “The Ukraine crisis is the result of American intrusions.”
Clearly, senior regime officials never make such remarks without getting the green light from Khamenei himself. But the backlash by the Iranian people, who have shown their wholehearted support for the people of Ukraine, was so intense that it caused disputes and disarray within the regime’s own ranks.
The state-run Arman newspaper wrote, “Who told Raisi to contact Putin?… At the very least, you should have refrained from saying that you hope the invasion will be in the interests of the nations of the region! Which war and aggression have benefitted people?”
Sharq newspaper reminded that the Russians have never had the regime’s back. “If you want to support the Russians, do so. But did they acknowledge your rights in the Caspian Sea? Did they help in circumventing U.S. sanctions? Did they support us in OPEC? Did they give you space in Shanghai?” it wrote.
The ruling theocracy is stuck in a web of crises, which have become more complicated since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine. The regime depends deeply on the support of Vladimir Putin as it struggles in the nuclear talks. And as Khamenei tries to remain in Russia’s good graces by explicitly and implicitly supporting its invasion of Ukraine, he has created a whole host of new problems for his regime.