Republican and Democratic senators on Wednesday tied the Iranian regime to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, noting the hard line regime’s support of Russian President Vladimir Putin — and linking the struggle for freedom in Iran to Kiev’s resistance to Moscow’s invasion.
The Senate briefing, organized by the Organization of Iranian-American Communities (OIAC), saw Democratic senators including Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J. and Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. join Republican Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas and John Cornyn, R-Texas, offer their support to resistance groups in Iran in their push for a democratic, secular Iran.
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Menendez told participants that “while the world has turned its attention to Ukraine, we cannot lose sight of the threat of the Iranian regime.”
Menendez noted the Tehran regime’s support of Russia, which in turn has been using recent Iran talks to push its own demands related to international sanctions related to its invasion of Ukraine.
“The Iranian regime who remains one of the few countries to vocally back Russia’s completely unprovoked and devastating invasion of Ukraine,” Menendez said.
“Just as Iran has worked hand-in-glove with Russia in support of the Assad regime’s horrific campaign against the Syrian people for the last 10 years, it continues to stand by Putin in the face of truly horrific actions,”
Menendez noted ongoing negotiations to bring Iran back into the 2015 Iran nuclear deal — officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — from which the U.S. and Iran both left during the Trump administration. Talks are ongoing in Vienna but have stalled after the Russian delegation upended final-hour negotiations by demanding sanction immunity for any future trade with Iran.
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Menendez said Russia is leveraging the negotiations in Vienna to take attention away from “the very real and immediate threat of Iran’s nuclear program”.
The New Jersey senator said the initial deal was “deeply flawed” and that he has “serious concerns” about the talks in Vienna to revive it — including Iran’s attitudes to negotiations.
“It has become clear for a year, and it has become even more abundantly clear in the past few weeks that Iran is simply looking for any excuse to drag out talks while it continues to advance its dangerous nuclear program,” he said.
Cruz, meanwhile, accused the Biden administration of looking the other way as Iran restored oil exports and made the region “one of the most dangerous on the globe” and also pointed to Iran’s ties with Russia.
“President Joe Biden wants nothing more than to create a new nuclear agreement with the Iranian regime that is even weaker than the catastrophic 2015 deal, even if it means surrendering to both the Ayatollah and Vladimir Putin,” he said.
“The Biden administration wants to sanction Putin on the one hand while simultaneously giving him a financial lifeline through the Iran deal on the other,” he said, before pledging to work to stop that from happening.
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Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., said in a statement to the event that the parallels between the struggle for freedom in Iran and the situation in Ukraine are “inescapable.”
“We are witnessing the strong resistance of the people of Ukraine against the unjust invasion of their country, a resistance that I know is well appreciated by the people of Iran, who have fought for their own freedom for years,” she said. “The shared struggles between the peoples of Iran and Ukraine demonstrate the strong human desire for liberty against tyranny, dignity over oppression, and equality for all.”
That parallel was made too by Ukrainian and Iran speakers who spoke at the event, including by Iranian dissidents who distanced themselves from the pro-Putin stance of the regime.
“Iran’s ruling mullahs have openly supported the invasion of Ukraine and the killing of innocent civilians. In contrast, the Iranian Resistance and the people of Iran have sided with the people of Ukraine and their Resistance,” National Council of Resistance of Iran President-elect Maryam Rajavi said.
Kira Rudik, a Ukrainian MP, gave an emotional appeal in which she repeated Ukrainian calls for a no-fly zone over Ukraine. She also praised |all the freedom fighters in Ukraine, all the freedom fighters in Iran, and all the freedom fighters in the world.”
“Because with your support, with your protection, we will win, and we will be living in a world where one country cannot take over another country just because of the political reasons of a crazy tyrant,” she said.
Fox News’ Rich Edson contributed to this report.