Putin in Tehran for Talks With Captain of Iran, Turkey!

Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, arrived in Iran on Tuesday for a trip that is part of Moscow’s challenge to the U.S. and Europe amid its hard-fought campaign in Ukraine.

In only his second trip abroad since Russian tanks rolled into its neighbor in February, Putin is scheduled to hold talks with Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan about the pressing issues facing the region, including the conflict in Syria and a U.N.-backed proposal to resume exports of Ukrainian grain to ease the global food crisis.

As the West imposes harsh sanctions on Russia and the expensive campaign drags on, Putin is trying to strengthen ties with Tehran, which is also facing harsh sanctions from the U.S. and could be a military and trade partner. The White House says that at least twice in the past few weeks, Russian officials went to an airfield in central Iran to look at Tehran’s weaponized drones to see if they could be used in Ukraine.

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Iran put out a long red carpet for Putin at Tehran’s Mehrabad airport, where Iranian Oil Minister Javad Owji warmly greeted him before he was whisked away in his presidential convoy to the city.

But perhaps most important, Putin’s trip to Tehran gives him a chance to meet with Erdogan, who has been trying to help broker talks on a peaceful end to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine and help talks to get Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea.

Putin in Tehran leaders of Iran

Turkey, which is a member of NATO, has been on the other side of bloody wars in Azerbaijan, Libya, and Syria. It has even sold deadly drones that Ukrainian forces have used to attack Russian troops. But Turkey hasn’t put sanctions on the Kremlin, which makes it a partner that Moscow needs. Turkey depends on the Russian market, even though its inflation is out of control and its currency is losing value quickly.

Putin’s supporters at home will also see the meeting as a sign of Russia’s power on the international stage, even though Russia is becoming more isolated and at odds with the West. It happens just a few days after Vice President Joe Biden went to Israel and Saudi Arabia, two of Tehran’s biggest enemies.

From Jerusalem and Jeddah, Biden told Israel and Arab countries to fight back against the growing influence of Russia, China, and Iran, which has grown because people think the United States is leaving the area.

Was hard to sell. Israel keeps good relations with Putin, which is important because Russia is in Syria, which is Israel’s neighbour to the northeast and a frequent target of Israeli airstrikes. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have turned down plans by their energy alliance with Moscow to pump more oil.

But despite their long-standing rivalries, all the countries could agree to work together to stop Iran, which has quickly moved forward with its nuclear program since former U.S. President George W. Bush left office. President Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal between Iran and the rest of the world and put back in place harsh sanctions. Talks to fix the deal have come to a halt.

The West and its regional rivals have put Iran in a tight spot, so the Iranian government is stepping up uranium enrichment, cracking down on dissent, and making headlines with hard-line, optimistic stances to keep the rial from falling. Without any sign that sanctions will be lifted, Iran needs to work with Russia to stay alive, even though Moscow seems to be undercutting Tehran in the black market oil trade.

“Iran is (the) center of dynamic diplomacy,” Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian wrote on Twitter, adding the meetings will “develop economic cooperation, focus on security of the region … and ensure food security.”

On Monday, Fadahossein Maleki, a member of the Iranian parliament’s powerful committee on national security and foreign policy, called Russia Iran’s “most strategic partner.” His words went against decades of bad feelings that started when Russia occupied Iran during World War II and didn’t leave when the war was over.

In his fifth visit to Tehran, Putin will meet Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, with whom he has a “trusting dialogue,” Putin’s foreign affairs adviser Yuri Ushakov said. He will also hold talks with President Raisi on issues including Tehran’s nuclear deal, of which Russia is a key signatory. The leaders met in Moscow in January and again last month in Turkmenistan.

The three presidents will talk about the conflict in Syria, which has been going on for 10 years. Iran and Russia have supported President Bashar Assad’s government, while Turkey has backed armed opposition groups. In 2015, Russia got involved in the war. It worked with Iranian forces and used its air power to help Assad’s weak military.

Ushakov said the parties will discuss efforts to encourage a political settlement, while Erdogan is expected to take up Turkey’s threats of a new military offensive in northern Syria to drive away U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish fighters from its borders. The operation is part of Turkey’s plan to create a safe zone along its border with Syria that would encourage the voluntary return of Syrian refugees.

In a meeting with Erdogan, Khamenei delivered a stern warning against the planned Turkish incursion.

“Any sort of military attack in northern Syria will harm Turkey, Syria, and the entire region, and will benefit terrorists,” Iran’s top leader said, stressing the need to “bring the issue to an end through talks.”

Iran and Turkey signed a bunch of preliminary agreements about investment, diplomacy, the media, and business, among other things, and promised to triple their trade to $30 billion. Erdogan’s visit was a “turning point” in their relationship, said Raisi.

In his speech, Erdogan called for unity in the fight against Kurdish militant groups and a network led by a U.S.-based Muslim cleric who Ankara accuses of planning a failed coup in 2016.

“They are nuisances that disrupt the calm of the countries where they are present,” he said. “We need to continue to lead a struggle against them.”

Humanitarian issues in Syria have also come into the spotlight since Russia used its veto power at the U.N. Security Council last week to stop aid from going to 4.1 million people in Syria’s rebel-held northwest after six months instead of a year.

On the agenda will also be talks to get rid of a Russian blockade and get Ukraine’s grain on world markets. Last week, officials from the U.N., Russia, Ukraine, and Turkey reached a tentative agreement on some parts of a deal that would allow the export of 22 million tonnes of grain and other agricultural products that were stuck in Ukraine’s Black Sea ports because of the fighting.

Putin and Erdogan’s meeting on Tuesday could help clear up the last few problems, which would be a big step toward ending the food crisis that has caused the prices of essential goods like wheat and barley to skyrocket.

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