Desperate for allies, Russia cultivates ties with Iran and Saudi Arabia

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RIGA, Latvia — A hot mic incident on pro-Kremlin television last week confirmed that the drones Moscow is using to kill Ukrainians and to destroy Ukraine’s infrastructure are manufactured and supplied by Iran — exposing the repeated denials by Moscow and Tehran as false. Are you on Telegram? Subscribe to our channel for the latest updates on Russia’s war in Ukraine. ArrowRight “We all know the drones are Iranian,” Ruslan Pukhov, a military expert close to the Russian Defense Ministry, told the anchors on RBC television, clearly unaware that they were live on air. “But the government has not admitted to it,” he muttered. He compared the situation to a body part that everyone knows they have but no one ever mentions in polite company.

The public denials by Russia and Iran, despite overwhelming evidence, highlight the expanding common ground between two nations bound closer than ever by their leaders’ anti-Western worldview and embrace of conspiracy theories, their willingness to use violence to achieve regional goals, their economic isolation under sanctions, brutal repression of their own citizens and their predilection for official lies.

The relationship of convenience has grown increasingly vital for Russia, which has suffered severe setbacks in its war in Ukraine and, humbling as it might be for an aspiring superpower, is turning to Iran for attack drones and missiles — potentially in violation of U.N. sanctions tha