Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak is expected to kick off a two-day visit to Iran on Tuesday, where he is to meet with officials at the central bank and the Ministry of Petroleum.
Russia and Iran have previously announced efforts to evade U.S. energy sanctions, including recent Russian fuel deliveries to Iran by rail, a claimed oil product swap agreement, and a linking of the countries’ banking systems. Iran continues a steady supply of drones to Russia, while Moscow may supply Iran with sanctioned missile fuel. Iranian media last week reported that a first shipment of Russian Su-35 jet fighters may soon arrive.
Senior Biden administration officials were expected to brief U.S. senators on Iran on Tuesday following Washington’s May 12 announcement that America will be increasing its naval presence near the Strait of Hormuz in the wake of Iran’s seizure of a U.S.-bound oil tanker.
U.S. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby acknowledged on Monday that Iran and Russia are “expanding their unprecedented defense partnership” in the wake of Western sanctions.
“Interactions between Iran and Russia in matters regarding the selling of advanced weapons, especially more advanced UAVs, are now continuing,” he told reporters.
“This is a full-scale defense partnership that is harmful to Ukraine, to the region in the Middle East, and to the international community,” Kirby said, adding that further sanctions would soon be announced.
“We are using the tools at our disposal to expose and disrupt these activities and we are prepared to do more. In the coming days, we will be announcing additional designations against those involved.”
Meanwhile, European governments are pressuring the Biden administration to revive efforts to reach a new nuclear deal with Iran despite deepening Iranian-Russian strategic relations and the ongoing protests throughout Iran.