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Russia-Iran relations at whole new level – defense minister

Sergey Shoigu noted that cooperation is expanding during a visit to Tehran

Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu (second left) meets with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Reza Ashtiani, on September 20, 2023, Tehran. © Sputnik / Vadim Savitskii/Russian Defense Ministry/Sputnik

Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu has hailed deepening cooperation between Moscow and Tehran, as he paid an official visit to Iran. The Russian minister stated on Wednesday that the two countries would continue to work together to ensure stability in the Middle East, regardless of Western pressure.

During a meeting in Tehran with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Reza Ashtiani, Shoigu said that cooperation between the two nations “is reaching a whole new level” and that dialogue “is developing especially actively today.

He added that Moscow and Tehran are determined to continue working jointly “despite counteraction from the US and its Western allies,” as quoted by the Russian Defense Ministry. According to Shoigu, sanctions pressure on both Moscow and Tehran is proving futile.

The Russian defense chief attributed deepening bilateral ties to the good rapport between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Iranian counterpart, Ebrahim Raisi.  

READ MORE: Top Russian bank launches new service in Iran 

On Tuesday, Shoigu met with the head of the General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, Mohammad Bagheri. The pair discussed the situation in Syria and Afghanistan, as well as the latest flare-up in tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh. Also high on their agenda was an exchange of military experience and plans to hold joint naval drills.

Shoigu, who had arrived in Iran earlier the same day, described his host as “Russia’s strategic partner in the Middle East.

Earlier this month, the head of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, David Barnea, raised the alarm over suggestions that Russia could provide Iran with “advanced weapons that will certainly endanger our peace, and maybe even our existence here.

He claimed that Tehran had supplied Moscow with kamikaze drones to use in the conflict with Ukraine, alleging that Russia could now return the favor.

Moscow has consistently denied claims that it has turned to Iranian weaponry, insisting that its military is using domestically produced UAVs.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said in November 2022 that Tehran had delivered a “limited number” of drones to Russia, but months before Moscow had launched its military operation in Ukraine.

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