TEHRAN -- Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu visited the aerospace unit of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) on Wednesday where he inspected drones, missiles, and air defense systems, Iranian media reported.
Shoigu, who arrived in Tehran on Tuesday, was welcomed and given a tour by Amirali Hajizadeh, the head of the IRGC’s aerospace unit, according to Tasnim news agency.
Earlier on Wednesday, Shoigu met with his Iranian counterpart, Muhammad Reza Ashtiani. Talks revolved around a “long-term military and defense cooperation document” between Iran and Russia, as well as proposals to address the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Tasnim said.
Addressing the tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Ashtiani said: “Maintaining international borders and the territorial integrity of regional countries is one of the red lines of the Islamic Republic of Iran … we consider the proposed 3+3 format to be a solution for peacefully solving issues in the Caucasus region.”
The “3+3” format includes the three Caucasian states - Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia - and their three neighboring countries - Russia, Turkey, and Iran.
Shoigu, for his part, said that the relationship between Russia and Iran has reached a new level despite opposition from the West.
“We are determined to implement the entire set of our planned activities despite opposition from the U.S. 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,” Russia’s TASS news agency quoted Shoigu as saying during his meeting with his Iranian counterpart.
“Today, we have an opportunity to discuss in detail topical issues of bilateral military cooperation. Iran is Russia’s strategic partner in the Middle East,” he said.
Shoigu stated that Moscow was ready “to take further joint steps to strengthen stability and security in the Middle East.” He added: “We are pleased to note that Russia-Iran dialogue has been particularly intense recently.”
He said: “The high intensity of meetings confirms our common determination to continue boosting strategic defense partnership.”
Upon his arrival in Tehran on Tuesday, Shoigu met with Iran’s top military commander, Muhammad Bagheri, who serves as the chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces.
Bagheri said that Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei believes that long-term cooperation between Iran and Russia is in the interest of both countries, and “that’s why the long-term cooperation document is being drafted.”
“This document holds significant military and defense dimensions and can serve as a suitable platform for the expansion of long-term bilateral cooperation.”
Bagheri said Tehran and Moscow are far from implementation of the full potential of military cooperation between the two countries.
“Although our relations have been developing in the recent years, we are still far from the realization of the full potential that the two countries have. We are very far from this point, and we have to do a lot in order to take full advantage of the existing potential for cooperation,” he said.
He added: “The military area is the driver and the forefront for development of relations between Iran and Russia, and holding such events as military consultations and commission may contribute to a sharp development of relations between the two countries.”
Over the past year, Russia and Iran, both subject to international sanctions, have forged strong ties across multiple sectors.
Earlier this month, Iranian media reported that the country’s air force had taken delivery of a shipment of Russian YAK-130 training aircraft, aimed at enhancing the training and combat capabilities of its air force.
In May, the United States voiced concern that Tehran and Moscow were “expanding their unprecedented defense partnership.”