Russian tyrant Vladimir Putin jetted into Tehran today for talks with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The trip was the Kremlin leader’s first outside the former Soviet Union since he waged war on Ukraine on February 24.
Putin, who has a nuclear arsenal estimated at 5,977 warheads, was due to meet the Ayatollah amid deepening Western fears over Iran’s nuke ambitions.
Earlier, the Russian despot held talks with Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi in the capital Tehran.
Speaking afterwards, Putin said relations between Iran and Russia were “developing at a good pace”.
He claimed the two countries, both subject to sanctions, were bolstering links on areas including international security, trade and “the settlement of the Syria crisis”.
Putin’s foreign policy adviser Yuri Ushakov said: “The contact with Khamenei is very important. A trusting dialogue has developed on the most important issues on the bilateral and international agenda. On most issues, our positions are close or identical.”
The meeting will raise fresh fears in the West about the alliance.
Tehran is accused of trying to enrich weapons-grade uranium after the collapse of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
The deal, aimed at curbing its nuclear ambitions, was abandoned by then US President Donald Trump.
Putin’s trip came just days after US President Joe Biden visited Israel and Saudi Arabia.
An Iranian official said: “Considering the evolving geopolitical ties after the Ukraine war, Tehran tries to secure Moscow’s support in its confrontation with Washington and its regional allies.”
Putin was also due to meet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with grain exports, the civil war in Syria and the Ukraine conflict on the agenda. Turkey is a member of NATO and talks were expected to focus on allowing Ukraine to restart grain shipments.
The Russian navy has effectively blockaded Black Sea ports – as food prices soar and some African nations prepare for famines.
Mr Ushakov said: “The issue of Ukrainian grain shipment will be discussed with Erdogan. We are ready to continue work on this track.”
Putin, who turns 70 this year, has made few foreign trips in recent years, travelling to China in February.
Asked about Putin’s diplomacy, PM Boris Johnson ’s deputy spokesman said: “Our aim is to isolate Putin for what he’s done in Ukraine.”
Asked if the Tehran trip was a worry, he said: “We’ve called on the international community to impose sanctions in making sure he’s not able to fulfil his aims in Ukraine.”