Sergey Shoigu meets senior military and security officials during a visit to Tehran and says ties between Russia and Iran have reached a new level.
Tehran, Iran – Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu met senior military and security officials in Iran and visited an exhibition of Iranian missiles and drones.
Shoigu arrived in Tehran on Tuesday and was officially received by Mohammad Bagheri, chief of staff of the Iranian armed forces.
He met Iranian Defense Minister Mohammad Reza Ashtiani, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) aerospace chief Amir Ali Hajizadeh and security chief Ali Akbar Ahmadian.
Bagheri told Shoigu that military cooperation is at the forefront of expanding relations between Tehran and Moscow, which has been working on a new long-term cooperation plan for months.
“This document has serious military and defense dimensions and can act as a suitable basis for expanding long-term cooperation between the two countries,” he was quoted by Iranian state media.
Bagheri said the two countries will hold joint military exercises in February 2024.
Shoigu said relations between the two countries have reached a new level.
“We are aiming for a whole series of planned activities despite opposition from the United States and its Western allies,” Shoigu claimed, according to Russia’s Interfax news agency.
“Sanctions pressure on Russia and Iran shows its futility, while Russian-Iranian interaction reaches a new level.”
After meeting with the IRGC’s Hajizadeh, the Russian defense chief was taken to an exhibition showcasing a range of Iranian weapons, including a selection of ballistic missiles, missile defense systems and drones.
Among them was the Shahed-136, the kamikaze drone, or loitering munition, which Western allies have accused Tehran of supplying to Russia for the war in Ukraine.
Iran has consistently denied the accusations, saying it supplied Russia with drones ahead of the war and supports an end to the conflict through negotiations.
The United States and its allies have also warned that Tehran may consider selling missiles to Russia for its war, despite Iran making no such public announcements.
On his first official trip to Iran since the start of the war in Ukraine last year, Shoigu also discussed tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh, where Azerbaijani forces launched a military operation this week.
Iranian officials told Shoigu that Tehran supports talks within the 3+3 format, which involves the participation of the three countries of the South Caucasus – Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia – and three close neighbors in the region, namely Iran, Russia and Turkey.
The two sides also discussed “American unilateralism,” the expansion of regional blocs such as the BRICS and European powers’ pledge to maintain military sanctions on Iran despite sunset clauses in Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
“Countering shared challenges, including US unilateralism, is one of the most important and strategic issues in our joint efforts,” Iranian Defense Minister Ashtiani told Shoigu by local media.