News Desk: Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has endorsed Russian President Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine saying if Moscow didn't start the war, the West would have.
Putin arrived in Tehran on Tuesday for talks on the Syrian war at a three-way summit with the Iranian and Turkish presidents that has been overshadowed by fallout from Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Khamenei told Putin that although Iran "is not at all happy that ordinary people" are suffering from the Ukraine war, the West was to blame.
"War is a harsh and difficult issue, and Iran is not at all pleased that ordinary people suffer from it, but in the case of Ukraine if you had not taken the initiative, the other side would have caused the war with its own initiative," Said Khamenei calling for strengthening "long-term cooperation" with Russia.
"If the road is open to Nato, it knows no boundaries and if it was not stopped in Ukraine they would start the same war some time later under the pretext of Crimea," he added.
He said Russia and Iran needed to work together gradually to reduce the power of the dollar.
Putin echoed Iran's judgment that he had no choice but to invade, saying: "No one is in favour of war, and the loss of ordinary people's lives is a great tragedy, but the behaviour of the west made us have no choice but to react. Some European countries said 'We were against Ukraine's membership in Nato, but we agreed under American pressure,' which shows their lack of independence."
Prior to Putin's visit, the National Iranian Oil Company and Russia's Gazprom signed a memorandum of understanding "worth about $40 billion", the Iranian oil ministry's official news agency Shana reported.
Gazprom said the MoU looks to "analyse possibilities of cooperation" in different areas, including development of Iran's gas and oil fields.