A leading ally of Russian President, Vladimir Putin, met Iran's President, Ebrahim Raisi, on Wednesday on a trip to deepen trade and security cooperation, as Moscow looks to shore up its economy and bolster its war effort in Ukraine, Reuters reports.
Russian Security Council Secretary, Nikolai Patrushev's visit was a sign of Iran's growing importance as a supportive partner and weapons supplier at a time when Moscow is isolated by Western sanctions and faces intense Ukrainian military pressure.
With Russia's "special military operation" in Ukraine in its ninth month, Raisi and Patrushev discussed "various issues of Russian-Iranian cooperation in the field of security, as well as a number of international problems", Interfax news agency said.
Russian state media said Patrushev discussed the situation in Ukraine and measures to combat "Western interference" in both countries' internal affairs with his Iranian security counterpart, Ali Shamkhani.
NourNews, affiliated with Iran's top security body, said Shamkhani called for deeper ties across a range of sectors, from energy to banking.
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"Iran welcomes and supports any initiative that leads to a ceasefire and peace between Russia and Ukraine based on dialogue, and is ready to play a role in ending the war," Shamkhani was quoted as saying.
Kyiv and the West say Russia has used Iranian Shahed-136 drones to target Ukrainian energy infrastructure in recent weeks, forcing Ukraine to introduce rolling blackouts in major cities, including the capital, to preserve power.
Iran acknowledged, for the first time at the weekend, it supplied Moscow with drones, but said it sent only a small number and they were shipped before the war began. Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, called that a lie.
Last month, two senior Iranian officials and two Iranian diplomats told Reuters that Iran had promised to provide Russia with surface-to-surface missiles, in addition to more drones.
Russia has accelerated efforts to build economic, trade and political relations with Iran and other non-Western countries since invading Ukraine on 24 February, in a drive to destroy what it calls US "hegemony" and build a new international order.