Ideology and Pragmatism in the Early Soviet Assessments of the Revolution in Iran 1978–1979

Asinovskiy D.L.


The revolution in Iran, that started in 1978 and culminated by the early 1979, happened to be a complete surprise for an absolute majority of experts worldwide, including the Soviet specialists and decision-makers. At the same time, by the end of the 1970s a certain belief in the general turn of the developing countries of Asia and Africa towards the Soviet model of development stabilized among the Soviet foreign policy top officials. Ideological successes in South Yemen, Angola, Mozambique, Ethiopia, etc. formed among the Soviet experts a perception of a positive trend in the global rivalry with the United States in the Third world. Thus the beginning of revolutionary events in Iran was considered in the USSR as a positive development with certain reservations due to the ambiguous perception of the US role in the Iranian political crisis. Although in the early 1979 the growing influence of the Iranian religious leadership became evident, the Soviet Union continued to support new revolutionary regime despite obvious ideological differences. This article is an attempt to explain the reasons of that support and the role played by the ideological and pragmatic considerations in this decision.


Iranian revolution; Soviet foreign policy; global Cold war; the Third world; ideology; countries of Asia and Africa.

DOI: 10.31249/rsm/2019.01.12

Download text