“Russia is playing on all sides,” said Helima Croft, chief commodities strategist at Canadian broker RBC. Russia counts Iran as a key ally in its widened geopolitical role in post-civil war Syria. It has criticized the new round of U.S. sanctions and says it won’t be bound by them. In recent months, Moscow has repeatedly said it would purchase at least 100,000 barrels a day of Iranian oil, which would provide a welcome buyer for oil that might not find a customer otherwise. Russia is offering to pay for the crude with Russian machinery and food, according to Russia’s Oil Ministry. It’s also promising to invest in the Iranian oil sector as Western companies retreat. Russia views Iran as a key ally and has criticized the new round of U.S. sanctions. Here, President Vladimir Putin meets Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in September 2018.