Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi told his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin that NATO expansion is a “serious threat” the day Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, the Iranian Presidency reported on Thursday.
“NATO expansion is a serious threat to the stability and security of independent countries in different regions,” Raisi said in a telephone call with Putin.
Raisi “expressed hope that what was happening would benefit the nations and the region,” according to the Iranian Presidency’s statement.
Russia’s troops launched on Thursday a comprehensive attack on Ukraine earlier on Thursday that brought explosions and set off air raid sirens in Kyiv and other cities, officially beginning the military conflict the West has tried for months to dissuade Moscow from starting.
Ukraine’s authorities said at least 40 people, both civilian and military, were killed so far.
Earlier on Thursday, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian blamed the Russian-Ukraine crisis on what he described as NATO’s “provocations”.
“The Ukraine crisis is rooted in NATO's provocations. We don't believe that resorting to war is a solution. Imperative to establish ceasefire and to find a political and democratic resolution,” he tweeted.
Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine despite international condemnation and under the threat of heavy sanctions by the US and Europe.
Putin justified the incursion into the neighbouring country by claiming the NATO alliance pursued an “expansionist agenda,” moving ever closer to Russia’s borders and threatening his country’s security.