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Will Russia back the US maximum pressure on Iran?

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The May 14 visit of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Russia was, without exaggeration, expected in the Kremlin. After the report of Special Counsel Robert Muller released in March seemingly exonerated President Donald Trump of "collusion" accusations, a window of opportunity opened up to re-establish direct communication channels.

These are particularly important to the US at the moment as it seeks not only to pull off the "deal of the century" in Palestine and find a solution in Syria, but also, more importantly, to corner Iran. To make its "maximum pressure" more effective, Washington needs Moscow to either get on board, or at least to remain neutral.

Although Pompeo's visit did not result in a significant breakthrough, it allowed the two sides to explore avenues for cooperate, which they will likely move forward in the upcoming trilateral meeting between national security advisers from the US, Russia and Israel to take place in Jerusalem later this month.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin, for its part, has demonstrated it was willing to make certain gestures of goodwill towards the US.

Following his meeting with Pompeo, Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested that Iran should not rely on Russia in its confrontation with the US over the nuclear deal. "Russia is not a fire brigade, we cannot save just anything, which does not fully depend on us. We have played our role... But it does not only depend on us," the Russian president said during a press conference in Sochi on May 15.

Two weeks later, Bloomberg reported that Russia refused to provide Iran with an S-400 missile system, although this request allegedly came from the very top of the Iranian political leadership. Indeed, given that this weapons system has become an increasingly political issue, it makes sense that the Russians would thread carefully on this matter, especially if there is a chance for a thaw in........

© Al Jazeera