Russia has continued to strengthen ties with its allies amid war with Ukraine by successfully launching an Iranian satellite into orbit Tuesday morning. Last month, Russian and Iranian leaders pledged to work together against the West.
While Iranian officials said no other country will have access to the information the satellite gathers, The Associated Press reported there have been allegations Russia may use it for surveillance on Ukraine. U.S. officials are reportedly concerned about the relationship between Iran and Russia, fearing the satellite will allow Iran to monitor Israel and other Middle East countries.
Turkey has become a Russian ally, as well. Leaders of the two nations met last Friday, agreeing to act against terror organizations in Syria. Turkey has stepped up its drone attacks against U.S.-allied Kurdish forces in Northern Syria.
“The Russian objectives here appear to me to be very much driven by trying to support the Assad regime, a brutal regime in Syria and it’s in their interest to have a foothold there in Syria so they can have access to the Mediterranean and access to the Middle East more broadly,” said Lt. General Alexus Grynkewich, U.S. Air force commander in the Middle East.
International leaders have expressed concerns about Russia’s geopolitical moves. In just the last few days, the leaders of both Estonia and Finland called for their fellow European nations to stop issuing tourist visas to Russian citizens. In an interview with the Washington Post, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he wants western countries to impose a blanket ban on all Russians, including refugees.
“Many of those countries are obviously way over their heads, literally resorting to statements we have already heard from the centee of Europe 80 years ago,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday. I think that in time, common sense will come into play and the ones who came forward with those statements will come around.”
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.