Russia Will Pay 'Huge Price' for Backing Iran, says Trump Adviser McMaster

National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster (right) alongside President Donald Trump (left) in the Cabinet Room at the White House, on December 20, 2017. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Russia is going "to pay a huge price" for supporting Iran's regime and its vision for the Middle East, President Donald Trump's top security adviser said.

The White House's National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster spoke out, calling for the global community to jointly "confront Iran's behavior that is causing so much suffering," around a week after anti-government protests erupted across the Islamic republic.

The protests began as demonstrations against corruption and high prices and have since adopted a wider anti-government stance, and summoning turnouts unseen for almost a decade. At least 22 people have died since protests began last Thursday. Russia is one of the Iranian regime's most powerful allies, a bond reinforced ever since Moscow and Tehran joined forces to fight for the survival of their mutual ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in 2015.

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Over the course of an interview with U.S.-government-funded broadcaster Voice of America, McMaster listed Iran and North Korea's nuclear missile program as topics where U.S. and Russian interests should overlap. So far, the general fallout between the West and Russia, starting with Russia's military actions in Ukraine and culminating with alleged meddling in western elections, has set a very different trend for relations.

"What we have seen recently is, it seems as if Russia will actually act against its interests to spite the United States, the West, our European allies," he said.

"How can it be in Russia's interest to help empower Iran from the Middle East?" McMaster asked. "They're going to pay a huge price for that." McMaster did not clarify what the consequences would be, but suggested "empowering" Iran was an ill-advised strategy to secure stability and friends in the Middle East.

"Every state, every Arab state certainly, should recognize what Russia has been doing, and Russia should pay the price in terms of its reputation, its access to the region for what it is doing to enable Iran and Iran's very destructive activities," McMaster urged. "Russia shouldn't give cover and support to Iran so it can continue its nefarious designs across the region."

Moscow's actions have already chipped away at the Kremlin's credibility on the global arena, McMaster argued. Referring to the election-meddling scandals, troops in eastern and southern Ukraine, and the support for a Syrian regime prone to striking its own citizens with chemical weapons, McMaster said Russia's actions were now in the realm of "implausible deniability."

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"What we need to do with Russia is confront their destabilizing behavior," he said, arguing that the best first step toward this is to "pull the curtain back on it."

"Once everybody sees what they're up to, they lose a lot of their power to foment lack of confidence and to pit communities against each other," he concluded.