Putin, Iran's president hold second phone talks in less than two weeks

The Kremlin says Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on Thursday over the phone. It says they discussed cooperation in the energy sector and other areas.

The call was their second in just over a week. The last was on January 11.

Iran has reportedly supplied drones to Russia that were used to attack Ukraine. Analysts say that amid its deepening rift with Western nations over Ukraine, Russia has been boosting military ties with Iran.

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited neighboring ally Belarus on Thursday. He met with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and Foreign Minister Sergei Aleinik.

At a news conference, Lavrov expressed deep concerns over what he called rising tensions in the political and military spheres.

He said NATO countries, including the United States, have been expanding their alliance's membership and treading a path of destruction.

Russia and Belarus have been staging joint air force drills since Monday.