(Bloomberg) -- President Vladimir Putin and his Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi vowed to deepen ties on Thursday, a day after the Russian leader made a rare visit to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Putin, whose country is under a raft of US and European sanctions imposed over his February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, has built an increasingly close partnership with Iran, including in the military sphere. His talks in Riyadh and Abu Dhabi on Wednesday also demonstrated the Russian leader’s success in courting the oil-rich traditional US Gulf allies, who have been critical of Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza.

“Our relations are developing very well, please give my best regards to the Supreme Leader” of Iran, Putin said at the start of their talks in Moscow. “Thanks to his support, we have established a good trend in the last few years.”

Raisi railed at the “unjust global system,” condemning Israel’s war in Gaza, which began after Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack that killed about 1,200 people, as a “crime against humanity” backed by the US and other Western nations. Describing Russia as a friendly nation, he said his meeting with Putin will create new favorable conditions for cooperation.

Read more: Putin Meets Saudi Crown Prince on Rare Trip to Shore Up Ties

As it pursues its attack on Ukraine, Russia is using Iranian-made drones and is building a factory that will manufacture unmanned aerial vehicles designed by Iran, according to the White House. Tehran in return is reportedly getting advanced fighter aircraft and missiles, electronics and air defense equipment.

Saudi Arabia in March re-established diplomatic ties with Iran in a deal brokered by China and has sought to bolster investment and defense ties with its rival as it works to prevent regional fallout from the Gaza conflict.

Read more: US Working on Israel-Saudi Ties Despite Gaza War, Top Envoy Says

Tehran and Riyadh have long been at loggerheads including over the US military presence in the Middle East and Iran’s support for armed proxies hostile to Saudi interests across the region. 





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