Putin remembers Raisi as a 'true friend' to Russia

Russian President Vladimit Putin (L) shakes hands meets Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi (R) ahead of their meeting at Kremlin. -/Kremlin/dpa
Russian President Vladimit Putin (L) shakes hands meets Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi (R) ahead of their meeting at Kremlin. -/Kremlin/dpa
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Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi was a "true friend" to Russia and was admired both at home and abroad, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a message on Monday, after it was confirmed that Raisi died in a helicopter crash a day earlier.

Raisi "was rightly highly respected by his compatriots and enjoyed great prestige abroad," Putin said in a condolence message to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that was released by the Kremlin.

"As a true friend of Russia, he made an invaluable personal contribution to the development of good neighbourly relations between our countries and made great efforts to raise them to the level of strategic partnership."

Ties between Tehran and Moscow have traditionally been close, with Putin viewing Iran as a key partner in his ambition to achieve a new world order that is free from US dominance.

Russia has enjoyed Tehran's support in its invasion of Ukraine. Kiev and the West say Iran is equipping Russia with drones and other weapons in circumvention of international sanctions.

In his message, Putin said that he would always fondly remember the "remarkable" Raisi.

Raisi and eight other passengers, including Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, died when their helicopter went down on Sunday over mountainous terrain in dense fog.