Vladimir Putin has arrived in Iran to forge a fearsome new alliance, with both sanction-hit countries united by their hatred for the West, media reports said.
The Russian leader will meet President Ebrahim Raisi and Ayatollah Khamenei, the Islamic Republic’s supreme leader, during the talks aimed at boosting ties between the regimes, Daily Mail reported.
It is only the second time that Putin has been abroad since launching his invasion of Ukraine five months ago.
The meeting comes amid warnings from the US last week that Iran is preparing to sell drones to Russia for use in Ukraine, Daily Mail reported.
US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan had said Tehran is planning to provide ‘hundreds’ of combat drones to Moscow, and Iranian soldiers will train their Russian counterparts in how to use the drones — with lessons beginning in just a few weeks.
A Russian delegation had visited an Iranian airfield on June 8 and July 5 to inspect the drones which could be used to direct artillery fire and destroy Ukrainian military hardware, the White House said.
It has been suggested that Russia will offer unspecified military assistance in exchange for the drones.
The gathering has symbolic meaning for Putin back home, showing off Russia’s international clout as it grows increasingly isolated and plunges deeper into confrontation with the West.
Russian state TV propagandist Yevgeny Popov said the two nations will form an ‘axis of good’, mocking George W. Bush’s ‘axis of evil’ description of Iran, Iraq and North Korea, Daily Mail reported.
Andrey Kortunov, head of the Russian International Affairs Council, said: “This is an important visit for Putin personally.”