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Russia stresses strong ties with Iran as Putin calls interim president

May 20, 2024 at 2:30 pm

Russian President Vladimit Putin (L) meets with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi (R) at Kremlin Palace in Moscow, Russia on December 7, 2023. [Kremlin Press Office – Anadolu Agency]

Russian President Vladimir Putin telephoned Iran’s new interim president on Monday as Moscow made clear its desire to preserve and build on its deepening relationship with Tehran despite the sudden death of President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash yesterday, Reuters has reported.

The Kremlin said that Putin expressed his condolences to interim president Mohammad Mokhber, and to the whole Iranian people over Raisi’s death. Putin described Raisi as a “reliable partner who made an invaluable personal contribution” to bilateral relations.

“Both sides emphasised their mutual desire to further consistently strengthen comprehensive Russian-Iranian interaction for the benefit of the peoples of the two countries,” added the Kremlin in its readout of the Putin-Mokhber call.

State news agency RIA quoted Sergei Shoigu, the secretary of Russia’s Security Council, as saying that Moscow could assist Iran in its investigation of the crash.

Since the start of the war in Ukraine, Russia has moved to strengthen its political, trade and military ties with Iran in a deepening relationship that the United States and Israel view with concern. In January, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said that a new interstate treaty reflecting the “unprecedented upswing” in Russia-Iran ties was in the final stages of being agreed, and Putin and Raisi were expected to sign it soon.

Putin held five hours of talks with Raisi in the Kremlin in December and had spoken to him by phone in March and April, according to the Kremlin website.

Like North Korea, whose leader Kim Jong Un met Putin in Russia’s far east last September, Iran is an avowed enemy of the United States and can provide Moscow with military hardware for use in its war in Ukraine, where Russia has made extensive use of Iranian drones.

Russia’s deputy foreign minister said on Monday that Moscow expected all agreements with Iran to be implemented, RIA reported.

According to the Kremlin, Putin had spoken to the Iranian ambassador to Moscow late on Sunday night following news of the helicopter crash, in which Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian was also killed. The Russian president also sent his condolences to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

“Sayed Ebrahim Raisi was an outstanding politician whose entire life was devoted to serving the Motherland,” Putin said in his telegram. “As a true friend of Russia, he made an invaluable personal contribution to the development of good neighbourly relations between our countries and made great efforts to bring them to the level of strategic partnership.”

READ: Iran gets interim president and 5 days mourning following Raisi’s death