Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev met with top Iranian leaders in Tehran on Wednesday as the two nations pledged to deepen relations to counter pressure from the US and its allies.

Russia regards “strategic cooperation” with Iran as an important element of its national security, Patrushev said at talks with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, state-run Tass news service reported. While the Kremlin denies using Iranian equipment, it has relied increasingly on drones from Tehran as it burns through its own stockpiles of missiles in attacks on Ukraine.

The war in Ukraine and development of deeper economic ties under “sanctions pressure” were discussed at talks with his Iranian counterpart Ali Shamkhani, the Interfax news service reported, citing a Security Council statement. Iran is interested to boost ties including in energy, transportation, agriculture, trade and banking, Shamkhani said, according to the state-run Nour news service.

The U.S. on Nov. 1 said it is concerned about Russia potentially acquiring surface-to-surface missiles from Iran, in addition to hundreds of Iranian drones that have been used in mass attacks targeting Ukraine’s cities and energy infrastructure.

Iran initially denied it sent drones to Russia, then claimed it had only supplied a limited number in the months before the war began, an assertion dismissed this week as false by Robert Malley, the US special envoy for Iran.

White House National Security Council John Kirby said last month that evidence of Iranian military assistance to Russia “is clear and it is public.”

(Scott Eells/Bloomberg)

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