Iran, Belarus seek closer military collaboration amid tensions with West

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Top military officials from Iran and Belarus met on Wednesday to discuss the establishment of a commission for military cooperation between the two countries, Iranian state media reported.

This comes as both Iran and Belarus find themselves at odds with Western powers, including over Russia’s war against Ukraine. Both countries maintain close ties with Russia, with Belarus serving as a rear base for Russian troops and Iran facing accusations of supplying Moscow with armed drones for use in the invasion of Ukraine.

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The meeting in Tehran between Iran’s armed forces chief of staff Mohammad Bagheri and Belarusian Defense Minister Viktor Khrenin included talks about having military attaches stationed in each other’s territories as well as the “formation of a joint commission for military cooperation between the two countries,” state news agency IRNA reported.

Bagheri said that military cooperation between Iran and Belarus “should be expanded due to the changes that are taking place in the global power structure,” according to IRNA.

He added that countries facing “oppressive” US and Western sanctions should have better relations with one another, echoing similar remarks made by Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei during a meeting with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in Tehran in March.

“Countries sanctioned by the US should work together and form a group to eliminate the tactic of sanctions, and we think that can be done,” Khamenei said at the time.

Both Iran and Belarus are under US sanctions. Tehran faces sanctions primarily due to its contested nuclear program, whereas Minsk has been hit with sanctions mainly over rights violations.

On Monday, Khrenin met with Iran’s Defense Minister Mohammad Reza Ashtiani. Following their meeting, the two officials signed a memorandum of understanding to enhance cooperation in the defense sector.

Ashtiani told his Belarusian counterpart that Minsk holds a “special place” in the Islamic Republic’s foreign policy, IRNA reported.

He blamed the war in Ukraine on the “eastward expansion of NATO” during the talks, according to IRNA.

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