MOSCOW - Russia and Iran publicly traded barbs on Wednesday, showing strains in their longstanding alliance because of Moscow's support for a new set of U.S.-backed sanctions over the Iranian nuclear program.
During a televised speech in Iran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad lashed out at Russian officials, who last week agreed, along with the other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, on the draft language for the proposed new sanctions, which would punish Iranian financial institutions and countries that offer Iran nuclear-related technology.
"We do not like to see our neighbor supporting those who have shown animosity to us for 30 years," Ahmadinejad said. "This is not acceptable for the Iranian nation. I hope they will pay attention and take corrective action."
The comments came a day after Iran's ambassador to Moscow said he hoped that Russia would dissuade the other Security Council members from imposing sanctions and warned that Russia risked manipulation by the United States.
"Russia should not think that short-term cooperation with the United States is in its interest," said Ambassador Mahmoud-Reza Sajjadi. "The green light the United States is showing Russia will not last long."
Sergei Prikhodko, a top Kremlin aide, said Wednesday that Russia was guided by its own long-term interests and that "our position can be neither pro-American nor pro-Iranian."
Prikhodko added that Russia rejected extremism and unpredictability in the global arena and that "those who speak on behalf of the fraternal people of Iran" should not forget this.
Russia has historically opposed sanctions against Iran. That began to shift late last year when Iranian leaders rejected a U.N.-brokered uranium enrichment plan, which Russia had helped draft, to defuse the standoff over Iran's nuclear program.
NEW YORK TIMES