Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has reiterated Moscow's unwavering respect for Iran's territorial integrity following criticism of a joint Arab-Russian statement that supported the United Arab Emirates' unfounded claim to three Iranian islands in the Persian Gulf. In a phone call with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Lavrov affirmed that Russia cordially, honestly, and unconditionally respects Iran's territorial integrity, emphasizing that this is Moscow's unchanging position.
This reassurance comes in the aftermath of the 6th Arab-Russian Cooperation Forum held in Morocco on December 20, where the final statement reiterated the UAE's baseless claims regarding the islands of Abu Musa, the Greater Tunb, and the Lesser Tunb. Despite the controversy stemming from the statement, Lavrov emphasized that Russia's commitment to respecting Iran's territorial integrity is a fundamental part of its foreign policy doctrine.
Iran's Foreign Ministry had previously summoned the Russian chargé d'affaires in Tehran to express a strong protest in writing over Moscow's repeated support for what Iran considers groundless claims in the joint statement. The historical, legal, and geographical evidence supporting Iran's sovereignty over the islands has been widely acknowledged, and the UAE's claims have been consistently refuted.
The islands, historically part of Iran, were restored to Iranian sovereignty on November 30, 1971, a day after British forces left the region and just two days before the UAE officially became a federation. Despite this historical context, the UAE has persistently laid claim to the islands. The recent controversy surrounding the Arab-Russian statement underscores the sensitivity of territorial issues in the Persian Gulf region.