Russia and Iran are aligning more and more.
In Tehran on Tuesday, Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu and his Iranian counterpart, defence minister Hossein Dehghan, signed an agreement on “military cooperation” between the two countries, according to the state-controlled news agency TASS.
“The signing of the intergovernmental agreement on military cooperation today became a significant step in the strengthening of these relations,” Shoigu said afterward. “The theoretical basis of cooperation in the military sphere has been established.”
Shoigu noted that the thinking of Russia and Iran regarding the situation in the Middle East and Afghanistan was “closer or coincides.” He also noted that during the meeting both sides stressed the importance of coordinated efforts to combat international terrorism and drug trafficking.
“We consider the reduction of tension in the region our responsibility and one of our top priorities,” Shoigu said.
Cooperation between the two countries is clearest in Syria, where planes from Moscow and Tehran have consistently arrived in Damascus with weapons and supplies for the Assad regime.
The foreign arm of the Iran Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah has been running the Assad regime’s campaign against secular and Islamist rebels in Syria. The Iran-backed government in Damascus continues to rain barrel bombs on civilian areas while Tehran sends fighters from multiple countries to bolster Assad.
Over the course of the four-year Syrian conflict, Russia has provided Assad’s regime with supplies including guns, grenades, tank parts, fighter jets, advanced anti-ship cruise missiles, long-range air defence missiles, military officers as advisers, diplomatic cover, and lots of cash.
“Emphasis was placed on the need for cooperation between Russia and Iran in the joint struggle with the intervention of outside forces in the region, ” Dehghan said. “The situation in the region and in the world required that a powerful Russia and a powerful Iran jointly promote the strengthening of international security and regional stability.”
“Iran and Russia are able to confront the expansionist intervention and greed of the United States through cooperation, synergy and activating strategic potential capacities,” Dehghan
said, according to AP. “As two neighbours, Iran and Russia have common viewpoints toward political, regional and global issues.”
Russia is planning on building nuclear reactors for Iran, even while Moscow works with Western powers on negotiating a deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program. The two countries also reportedly inked a five-year deal that included “closer ties in the oil and gas sector, construction and rebuilding of generating capacity, development of power supply network infrastructure, machinery, consumer goods, and agriculture.”
The two defence ministers also discussed “activities of mutual interest,” including the expansion of delegations, the holding of staff talks, participation in exercises as observers, the training of military personnel, and the exchange of experience in peacekeeping and counterterrorism, reports TASS.
“We have agreed to expand the practice of visits of warships in Russian and Iranian ports,” Shoigu added.
Additionally, the Iranian defence ministry stated that the two countries decided to settle “the S-300s problem,” according to Naharnet.
“A step was taken in the direction of cooperation on the economy and arms technology, at least such defensive systems such as the S-300 and S-400. Probably we will deliver them,” RIA quoted Colonel General Leonid Ivashovas saying.
Back in 2007, Russia signed a contract to sell S-300 air defence systems to Tehran, but following strong objections by the US and Israel, the weapon was missile system was never delivered. Israel has also urged Russia to refrain from selling the advanced weapons system to the Syrian regime.
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