Seeking ‘Axis of Good’ Against U.S., Russia Taps Allies of Convenience

A trilateral meeting of the leaders of Iran, Russia and Turkey seemed to suggest a new anti-American alliance. But there are major fissures between the countries, too.

BRUSSELS — Commenting on the visit of Vladimir V. Putin to Iran, a member of the Russian Parliament and television talking head, Yevgeny G. Popov, said that the two countries hoped to form an “axis of good,” mocking former President George W. Bush’s description of Iran, Iraq and North Korea as an “axis of evil.”

Trolling American foreign-policy blunders and rhetoric is a popular sport in Russia, from Mr. Putin, the president, on down, but the growing affection between Russia and Iran is that of two isolated, sanctions-stricken countries whose main connection is their active opposition to the United States, its allies and its domination of the multilateral world order.

While the United States likes to wrap its alliances in grandiloquent words about shared values and democracy, Russia, Iran and China, Moscow’s other openly supportive pal and American rival, are far more transactional in their connections.

But transactional relations do not make for lasting alliances or disguise the strains within them.

“Russia is isolated on the global stage in a way it’s never been,” said Charles A. Kupchan, a former American official who is a professor at Georgetown University. “Putin is looking for recognition and acceptance wherever he can get it, and that he can get it in Tehran speaks volumes.”

Even China, which has stood by its anti-American partnership with Russia, “has carefully kept its distance from the war in Ukraine,” Mr. Kupchan said. “And even though the lion’s share of the world’s countries aren’t enforcing the sanctions regime against Russia, they get it: that Russia’s invasion was a bald act of aggression.”


Read the full article on the site of the New York Times.