Russian President Vladimir Putin (left), Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei (center) and President Ebrahim Raisi in Tehran on July 19, 2022

Iran, Middle East Dictatorships Named As Moscow's ‘Inner Circle’

Thursday, 01/18/2024

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar are integral members of Russia's close circle.

"As for our inner circle, then, of course, I should mention countries in the Middle East - Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar," Lavrov told a news conference devoted to the achievements of Russian diplomacy in 2023.

Lavrov emphasized Russia's keenness to advance relationships not solely through bilateral means but also through regional organizations established by several of Russia's partners.

"I mean the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, I mean the League of Arab States, ASEAN, the African Union, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States and others," he explained.

Russia has delayed the renewal of a two-decade-old strategic agreement with Iran; however, amid the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, Moscow is increasingly reliant on Iranian weaponry, including kamikaze drones.

Much like North Korea, whose leader Kim Jong Un met with Putin in Russia's far east in September, Iran is a declared adversary of the United States, presenting Moscow with the opportunity to supply military hardware for the Ukrainian war, where Russian forces extensively deploy Iranian drones.

In November, the Kremlin acknowledged the ongoing development of relations between Russia and Iran, particularly in the field of military-technical cooperation. However, there was no comment on the White House's suggestion that Iran might be contemplating providing Russia with ballistic missiles.

Iranian authorities have stated that military cooperation with Russia is expanding, with Iran finalizing arrangements last year for Russia to supply Su-35 fighter jets, Mi-28 attack helicopters, and Yak-130 pilot training aircraft.

Amid global sanctions, the UAE has seen around one million Russians descend on its shores since war broke out, the tax haven offering a sanction free destination for oligarchs and non-oligarchs alike. Turkey equally has seen a spike in Russian arrivals, especially from Russia's oligarch elite.

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