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Iranian Minister Announces Advancement to New Stage in Defense Cooperation with Russia

By Nigar Bayramli September 20, 2023

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Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Mohammad-Reza Ashtiani held a meeting with Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in Tehran on September 20, 2023. / MEHR News Agency

Mohammad-Reza Ashtiani, the Iranian Defense Minister, has stated that the defense ties between Moscow and Tehran have undergone remarkable growth over the past ten years.

“Over the past decade, our defense and security relations have undergone unprecedented development. Your visit and the signing of the memorandum of understanding mark the beginning of a completely new, fundamentally new stage in our bilateral relations,” Ashtiani said at a meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergey Shoigu in Tehran, on September 20, according to the Mehr news agency.

Ashtiani said that “our relations are characterized by the support of the leaders of our countries. They guarantee security and stability in the region.”

“Many countries have finally started thinking about the creation of a multipolar world order. These countries have started thinking independently, and I am happy to see that there are some European countries among them,” the Iranian minister emphasized.

He noted that “over the past few years, Russia and Iran have significantly expanded their cooperation in many areas,” and added that “in particular, I’d like to point to the regional issue, that is, the joint fight against terrorism and extremism.” Ashtiani further added that Iran and Russia “saw each and every precondition for creating a strong alliance,” and expressed hope that “our cooperation will lead to peace and stability in the international arena.” 

In turn, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu announced readiness “to take further joint steps to strengthen stability and security in the Middle East.”

“We are determined to implement the entire set of our planned activities despite opposition from the US and its Western allies. The pressure of sanctions on Russia and Iran is proving to be futile, while Russia-Iran cooperation is reaching new highs,” Shoigu said during the bilateral talks.

He said that “we are pleased to note that Russia-Iran dialogue has been particularly intense recently,” and added that this is largely due to the trust-based relations between the leaders of Russia and Iran.

“The high intensity of meetings confirms our common determination to continue boosting strategic defense partnership,” the Russian minister stressed.

During a meeting with Shoigu on September 19, Major General Mohammad Hossein Baqeri, the Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, mentioned that they were in the process of preparing a document to formalize their long-term military cooperation with Russia.

“Although the relations between the two countries have expanded in recent years, we still believe that there exists considerable unexplored potential. With further efforts we must promote these relations to a favorable new level,” Baqeri added.

He urged the establishment of joint military committees and the scheduling of naval exercises with Russia, highlighting that an upcoming joint exercise in February would further bolster Iran-Russia military cooperation.

In turn, Shoigu said “I consider our meeting yet another step towards the strengthening of Russia and Iran’s strategic partnership. Today we have the opportunity to discuss in detail topical issues of bilateral military collaboration.”

“Russian-Iranian relations in the defense sphere are developing dynamically and positively. Recently the intensity of meetings, both on the highest level and on the level of the leadership of defense departments, has increased significantly. We see in this a common vision of the construction of a world order based on the equality of all participants in international relations,” the Russian defense minister added.

Shoigu’s visit follows a delegation’s visit to Moscow, led by Brigadier General Kioumars Heydari, the commander of the Iranian Army’s Ground Force, just one month ago.

Both Iran and Russia have been subjected to Western sanctions, and in recent years, they have significantly strengthened their ties across multiple sectors, particularly in the military and defense realms, solidifying their status as close allies.

The West has often voiced criticism toward Tehran for its support of Russia in the Ukrainian conflict and the provision of arms, particularly kamikaze drones; however, Tehran denies supplying these arms with the intent for use in the war while acknowledging the delivery of a “limited number” of drones several months prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.