TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Iran on Tuesday, aiming to deepen ties with regional heavyweights as part of Moscow’s challenge to the United States and Europe amid its fractious campaign in Ukraine.
In his second foreign trip since Russian tanks rolled into its neighbor in February, Putin plans to hold talks with Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on pressing issues facing the region, including the conflict in Syria. Supported the proposal to resume the export of Ukrainian grain to alleviate the global food crisis.
As the costly campaign drags on as the West piles sanctions on Russia, Putin seeks to strengthen ties with Tehran, a military and trade partner and fellow target of tough US sanctions. In recent weeks, Russian officials have visited an airfield in central Iran at least twice The White House has accused Tehran of reviewing weapons-capable drones for possible use in Ukraine.
Iran rolled out a long red carpet for Putin at Tehran’s Mehrabad Airport, where Iranian Oil Minister Javad Ovji greeted him warmly before being escorted into the city in his presidential motorcade.
But perhaps more importantly, the trip to Tehran gives Putin an opportunity for a high-stakes meeting with Erdogan, who has sought to help broker talks on a peaceful resolution of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, as well as negotiations over a Ukrainian grain embargo. Black Sea.
Turkey, a NATO member, has found itself up against Russia in bloody conflicts in Azerbaijan, Libya and Syria. It has even sold deadly drones used by Ukrainian forces to attack Russian troops. But Turkey has not imposed economic sanctions on the Kremlin, which has become a much-needed partner for Moscow. With runaway inflation and a rapidly depreciating currency, Turkey also relies on the Russian market.
For Putin’s domestic audience, the meeting also demonstrates Russia’s international influence, even as it becomes increasingly isolated and mired in conflict with the West. It comes days after US President Joe Biden visited Tehran’s main rivals Israel and Saudi Arabia.
From Jerusalem and Jeddah, Biden emphasized Israel and the Arab world Pushing back Russian, Chinese and Iranian influence has expanded with the perception of a US withdrawal from the region.
It was a tough sell. Israel maintains cordial relations with Putin, who has been the target of Russian presence and frequent airstrikes in Syria, Israel’s northeastern neighbor. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have refused to pump more oil beyond the plan approved by an energy alliance with Moscow.
But all countries — despite their longstanding rivalries — can agree to come closer against Iran, which has rapidly advanced its nuclear program. Former US President Donald Trump abandoned Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers and reimposed crippling economic sanctions. Negotiations to restore the deal have reached an impasse.
Backed into a corner by the West and its regional rivals, the Iranian government Intensifies Uranium Enrichment, Overcomes Dissent and grabbing headlines with optimistic, tough stances aimed at destabilizing the Iranian currency, the rial. Without sanctions relief, Iran’s strategic partnership with Russia has become one of survival, with Moscow appearing to undercut Tehran in the black market oil trade.
“Iran is the center of dynamic diplomacy,” Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amiraptolahian wrote on Twitter, adding that the meetings would “foster economic cooperation, focus on the region’s security … and ensure food security.”
Fadahossein Maleki, a member of the Iranian parliament’s influential committee on national security and foreign policy, on Monday described Russia as Iran’s “most strategic partner.” His comments belied decades of hostility It stems from Russia’s occupation of Iran during World War II – and then refusal to withdraw.
On his fifth visit to Tehran, Putin will meet Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, with whom he will have a “confidential conversation,” Putin’s foreign affairs adviser, Yuri Ushakov, said. He will hold talks with President Raisi on issues including Tehran’s nuclear deal, to which Russia is a key signatory. The leaders met in Moscow in January and again in Turkmenistan last month.
Central to the talks between the three presidents will be the decade-long conflict in Syria, where Iran and Russia have backed President Bashar Assad’s government, while Turkey has backed armed opposition factions. Russia intervened in the conflict in 2015, coordinating efforts with Iranian forces and using its air power to bolster Assad’s growing army.
Ushakov said the parties would discuss efforts to promote a political solution, while Erdogan is expected to take on board Turkey’s threats of a new military offensive in northern Syria. It must drive the US-backed Syrian Kurdish militia from its borders. The move is part of Turkey’s plan to create a safe zone along its border with Syria to encourage the voluntary return of Syrian refugees.
In a meeting with Erdogan, Khamenei issued a stern warning against a planned Turkish incursion.
“Any military attack in northern Syria will certainly harm Turkey, Syria and the entire region, and benefit terrorists,” Iran’s top leader said, stressing that “the issue should be ended through dialogue.”
Iran and Turkey signed preliminary agreements covering investment, diplomacy, media and trade, among other areas, and pledged to increase bilateral trade to $30 billion. Raisi hailed Erdogan’s visit as a “turning point” in their relations.
In his speech, Erdogan called for unity in the fight against Kurdish militant groups, as well as a network led by a US-based Muslim cleric that Ankara accuses of orchestrating a failed coup in 2016.
“They are nuisances that disturb the peace of the countries where they are,” he said. We must continue to fight against them.
Humanitarian problems in Syria have also come into focus since Russia used its veto power in the UN Security Council last week. It would force a freeze on aid to the 4.1 million people in Syria’s rebel-held northwest after six months instead of a year.
On the agenda will be talks about lifting the Russian blockade and getting Ukraine’s grain to world markets. Last week, UN, Russian, Ukrainian and Turkish officials reached a tentative agreement on some aspects of a deal. The fighting is to ensure the export of 22 million tons of grain and other agricultural products that have been stranded in Ukraine’s Black Sea ports.
Tuesday’s meeting between Putin and Erdogan will help clear remaining sanctions, a key step toward easing a food crisis that has pushed up prices of key commodities such as wheat and barley.
Isachenkov reported from Moscow. Associated Press writers Isabelle Debre in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and Suzanne Fraser in Ankara, Turkey contributed.
Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine
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