Russia reached out to protect Iran from the West on Wednesday, warning that sanctions would "stifle" the Iranian economy.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters at a news conference that Western nations should instead return to focusing their efforts on reviving talks with Iran.
Lavrov warned that any efforts to impose additional sanctions against the Islamic Republic would cause a "stifling effect on the Iranian economy... in the hope of provoking discontent."
The Russian foreign minister also attempted to forestall any talk of a potential military attack to end Iran's its nuclear threat to the world, saying such a move "would pour fuel on the 'hidden smouldering fire of Sunni-Shi'ite confrontation."
The intra-Muslim conflict between the two sects has indeed fueled friction between Iran and Saudi Arabia, and between Iran and Bahrain, where Shi'ite populations have attempted uprisings against the Wahabi and Sunni regimes.