MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday hailed Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi as an “outstanding politician” and said his death in a helicopter crash was an “irreplaceable loss.”

Iran has become one of Russia’s key political allies since Moscow launched its Ukraine offensive in 2022, with Tehran supplying crucial drone technology.

“Raisi was an outstanding politician whose entire life was dedicated to serving his homeland,” Putin said in a letter to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, published on the Kremlin’s website.

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“As a true friend of Russia, he made an invaluable personal contribution to the development of good-neighbourly relations between our countries, and made great efforts to take them to the level of a strategic partnership,” he added.

The Kremlin leader said he was sending condolences to Khamenei and the Iranian people “in the face of such a grave and irreplaceable loss.”

Raisi was declared dead on Monday after rescue teams found his crashed helicopter in a fog-shrouded western mountain region.

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