AS RUSSIA MOVES TOWARD A LESS Western-centric foreign policy and its relations with the West become more competitive, it is finding a willing partner in Iran. After a brief period of estrangement in the wake of the Soviet Union's collapse, Russo-Iranian relations have steadily improved since 1993. The two countries have cooperated on issues ranging from the legal status of the Caspian Sea to regional conflicts such as the Tajik civil war and the dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh.

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