Ali Motahari, an outspoken conservative ex-MP, has strongly condemned the way Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) is covering the Russian invasion of Ukraine. “IRIB is reporting the news like a Russian colony,” he tweeted.
Motahari also asked the Iranian government not to stay silent in the face of Putin’s aggression. “Iran must show its independence by condemning the attack on Ukraine by Russia,” he wrote. “We must always remember that Russia separated Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia from Iran and the Soviet Union supported Saddam Hussein’s attack on Iran.” The areas Motahari mentioned were ceded by Iran to to Russia after the Russo-Persian War in the early 19th century. Many Iranians have never forgotten this humiliation.
Other Iranian officials, however, stuck to the Kremlin’s line as touted in Iranian state media earlier in the day. Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian tweeted: “The Ukraine crisis is rooted in NATO's provocations”.
Since the latest conflict imposed by Russia on Ukraine began earlier this year, the Islamic Republic has done its best not to upset Moscow. State-run news agencies have sought to justify the assault on Ukrainian territory in close to the same terms as Russian state-controlled media. Earlier, in a news item entitled "Putin announces Launch of Russian Special Operation in Donbas", the IRGC-controlled Fars News Agency simply quoted Putin as saying: “All attempts by Russia to reach an agreement on NATO not advancing onto Russian territory have failed.'"
Ukraine closed its airspace to civilian flights after the invasion began on Monday. But Saeed Khatibzadeh, Foreign Ministry’s spokesman, announced that Iran is trying to arrange one or two more flights to evacuate Iranians from certain areas of Ukraine. He, too, claimed to blame NATO for the invasion.
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