Iranians can now travel to Russia for up to six months without a visa, a sign of deepening ties between Moscow and Tehran.
The countries had strong bilateral trade before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 last year. This encompassed the energy sector, agriculture, defence ties and space technology, as Russia assisted Iran with satellite equipment in June 2021. The satellite went into orbit in August.
Iran is expected to reciprocate on the visa-free travel offer in the next few months, according to the country’s ambassador.
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin signed a decree approving a “facilitated” visa system for citizens of 19 countries at the end of last month.
Last month, Moscow’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, said his country was planning to introduce visa-free travel for citizens of up to 11 “friendly” countries and ease entry requirements for citizens of six others.
Iran is included on the list as well as India, Bahrain, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, North Korea, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mexico, Myanmar, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Turkey and the Philippines.
Iran’s ambassador to Moscow, Kazem Jalali, said political relations between Moscow and Tehran were getting stronger.
“Our political relations are gradually developing and strengthening every day on the basis of us being neighbours as well as on our sharing similar approaches on the international arena,” Mr Jalali said.
Russia and Iran “are enjoying a golden age in the development of bilateral ties,” he added.
The co-operation had been held back by US sanctions against Iran, which delayed Russian energy giant Lukoil’s plans to invest in two major Iranian oil fields in 2021. They included the Mansouri oil field in western Iran, which is thought to hold more than 15 billion barrels.
But following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, ties between both countries grew dramatically, with Russia saying it would invest in Iran’s energy sector to the tune of $40 billion over the summer.
Defence ties have also grown significantly.
Last month, US defence officials sought to dispel any doubt that Iran is supplying drones for Russia’s war in Ukraine. They released photos and analysis of Iran-made unmanned aircraft being used in the conflict to demonstrate Tehran’s involvement.
It was revealed that Russia had been using Iran-supplied kamikaze drones in its war against Ukraine.