Skip to main content

Iran's supreme leader blames US for Russia war on Ukraine

Iran's supreme leader said the United States was the "root cause" of the Ukraine war as he refrained from condemning Russia for the invasion.
Khamenei

"Ukraine is a victim to America's policy of crisis instigation," declared Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in a televised address, as the Russian invasion of its western neighbor entered a sixth day.

"US interference through velvet movements and color coups," Khamenei said, "pulled Ukraine into where it is now."

Despite expressing support for a "halt to the war," Khamenei avoided condemning Russia for waging it, and made no reference to Ukraine's territorial integrity. Yet he attacked the United States and the Western world as the root causes of the ongoing conflict.

"We are against wars and destruction anywhere in the world… unlike Western governments, which turn Afghan weddings into funerals with their bombardments, and brand it war on terror," the Iranian leader said.

The remarks were Khamenei's first public reaction to the war ordered by his close ally, Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is facing a growing tide of international condemnation along with packages of unprecedented far-reaching sanctions.

In a brief content analysis, London-based Iranian journalist Hossein Bastani highlighted how Khamenei made zero mention of the word "Russia," while making direct references to the United States 20 times.

Khamenei also described the government of Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as a "puppet state" which had fallen back on the US and Europe, and now served as a lesson that the promise of Western support is but a "mirage."

The 82-year-old cleric argued that the Ukrainian government is grappling with war because it lacks public popularity and "if its people had entered the scene, Ukraine wouldn’t have been at what it is now."

Seen waiting in long queues to serve as combat volunteers, Ukrainians have over the past week earned international admiration for putting up stiff resistance against a heavily equipped Russian army, as one opinion poll suggested President Zelenskyy's approval had hit an all-time high of 90%.

Since its outbreak, the Russia war on Ukraine has increasingly sparked heated debates in Iran and has further laid bare divisions on the nation's political spectrum.

The hardest-line loyalists of the Islamic Republic adhere to the narrative that Putin was left with no choice due to Western provocation. The Ukraine war, those Iranians argue, has vindicated their view that governments should refrain from trusting the United States. Critics of the Iranian government, on the other hand, accuse it of lacking independence, demonstrated in its reluctance to criticize the onslaught. 

And the rifts have been most evident in the choice of terminology in newspaper headlines. "The resistance of the Ukrainian public and military against the invasion by Russian aggressors" was covered by the moderate daily Jomhouri Eslami.

By clear contrast, however, the ultraconservative paper Javan underlined how Putin "was flexing nuke muscles" to the face of NATO countries.

Join hundreds of Middle East professionals with Al-Monitor PRO.

Business and policy professionals use PRO to monitor the regional economy and improve their reports, memos and presentations. Try it for free and cancel anytime.

Free

The Middle East's Best Newsletters

Join over 50,000 readers who access our journalists dedicated newsletters, covering the top political, security, business and tech issues across the region each week.
Delivered straight to your inbox.

Free

What's included:
Our Expertise

Free newsletters available:

  • The Takeaway & Week in Review
  • Middle East Minute (AM)
  • Daily Briefing (PM)
  • Business & Tech Briefing
  • Security Briefing
  • Gulf Briefing
  • Israel Briefing
  • Palestine Briefing
  • Turkey Briefing
  • Iraq Briefing
Expert

Premium Membership

Join the Middle East's most notable experts for premium memos, trend reports, live video Q&A, and intimate in-person events, each detailing exclusive insights on business and geopolitical trends shaping the region.

$25.00 / month
billed annually

Become Member Start with 1-week free trial

We also offer team plans. Please send an email to pro.support@al-monitor.com and we'll onboard your team.

What's included:
Our Expertise AI-driven

Memos - premium analytical writing: actionable insights on markets and geopolitics.

Live Video Q&A - Hear from our top journalists and regional experts.

Special Events - Intimate in-person events with business & political VIPs.

Trend Reports - Deep dive analysis on market updates.

All premium Industry Newsletters - Monitor the Middle East's most important industries. Prioritize your target industries for weekly review:

  • Capital Markets & Private Equity
  • Venture Capital & Startups
  • Green Energy
  • Supply Chain
  • Sustainable Development
  • Leading Edge Technology
  • Oil & Gas
  • Real Estate & Construction
  • Banking

Start your PRO membership today.

Join the Middle East's top business and policy professionals to access exclusive PRO insights today.

Join Al-Monitor PRO Start with 1-week free trial