What Happened: Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif met Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow on Sept. 2 to discuss the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal, AFP reported. In the meantime, Iranian Energy Minister Reza Ardakanian said Aug. 30 that Iran would officially join a free trade area with the Moscow-led Eurasian Economic Union in late October.
Why It Matters: Russia has been attempting to increase its relations with Iran as part of its strategy to diversify global ties amid its ongoing standoff with the West. Although Moscow has stopped short of offering Tehran direct military assistance, it continues to back Iran diplomatically on its stance toward the JCPOA and U.S. sanctions.
Background: Iran's naval chief, Adm. Hossein Khanzadi, visited Moscow on July 29 to sign a memorandum of understanding on defense cooperation with the Russian Defense Ministry. During the visit, Khanzadi said both countries were planning to hold joint naval drills before the end of the year.