Russian officials intensified their rhetoric over the Syria crisis Thursday, saying Moscow was stepping up cooperation with Iran and boosting its military presence in the eastern Mediterranean.

The Russian military said Thursday that a new small warship armed with cruise missiles will join Russian’s naval grouping off the coast of Syria in the coming days, adding to Moscow’s naval presence in the region. Russia’s sole aircraft carrier is also expected to join the grouping before the end of the year.

Russia also boosted contacts with Iran over the Syria crisis. Following a meeting with his Iranian counterpart Thursday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said he had discussed “immediate renewal of the coordinated international efforts aimed at an inclusive inter-Syrian dialogue,” the news agency Interfax reported. […]