The Russian defense minister on Tuesday arrived in Tehran for talks with Iran’s leadership just as the situation in nearby Karabakh escalated, with Azerbaijan announcing the start of “counter-terrorism” measures in the region.
Sergey Shoygu’s visit is aimed to help strengthen Russian-Iranian military ties and will be important for the development of cooperation between the two countries, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Relations between Azerbaijan and Iran have recently been rocky in part due to Tehran's support for neighboring Armenia and an attack this January on the Azerbaijani Embassy in Tehran, Iran's capital.
Russia is Armenia's ally in the Collective Security Treaty Organization, but the country’s leadership has recently made moves bringing it closer to the US, Moscow’s main rival.
Relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia have been tense since 1991 when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, a territory internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.
In the fall of 2020, Azerbaijan liberated several cities, villages, and settlements from Armenian occupation during 44 days of clashes. The war ended with a Russia-brokered cease-fire.
Tensions between the two nations, however, continue despite ongoing talks over a long-term peace agreement.
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