7th December 2023 – (Moscow) Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi commenced his official visit to Moscow on Thursday, marking a significant diplomatic engagement between Iran and Russia. During this visit, he is scheduled to meet with his Russian counterpart, President Vladimir Putin, to discuss a range of matters, including economic cooperation and the ongoing Israel-Gaza conflict. The state-linked Russia Today news channel aired footage of President Raisi disembarking from his official aircraft, a Meraj Airways A340, upon his arrival in Moscow.
According to Iran’s Irna news agency, the main focus of President Raisi’s one-day trip encompasses bilateral discussions on economic interactions, along with dialogues concerning regional and international affairs, particularly the situation in Palestine and the ongoing developments in Gaza.
The two leaders had previously communicated via a phone call on 16th October, where they expressed mutual concerns about the conflict in Gaza, as per Iranian official media. Their last in-person meeting took place on the sidelines of the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, the previous year.
Russia and Iran share common ground on various issues, including their support for President Bashar Al Assad in Syria, and both nations have been subject to economic sanctions imposed by Western countries. Particularly since Russia’s incursion into Ukraine in February 2022, defence ties between the two countries have strengthened. Iran has notably provided numerous drones and artillery ammunition to the Russian military.
The burgeoning defence partnership between Russia and Iran has raised concerns in the United States. Both countries are also members of OPEC+, an organisation that coordinates oil production levels among oil-producing nations.
Furthermore, Iran is among the six countries that have received invitations to join the Brics economic bloc, originally comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. The additions of Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE are set to be formalised on 1st January, 2024.
In the context of a diplomatic week for President Putin, President Raisi’s visit follows Mr. Putin’s one-day visit to the Gulf. During his state visit to the UAE, President Putin engaged in discussions with President Sheikh Mohamed, addressing topics such as Gaza, Ukraine, and Cop28. Both leaders emphasized the necessity for a lasting peace in the Israel-Palestine region, emphasizing a two-state solution.