Putin visits Iran on first journey exterior former Soviet Union since Ukraine struggle


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LONDON/DUBAI — Russian President Vladimir Putin will go to Tehran on Tuesday for talks with Iranian Supreme Chief Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Kremlin chief’s first journey exterior the previous Soviet Union since Moscow’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine.

In Tehran, Putin may also maintain his first face-to-face assembly because the invasion with a NATO chief, Turkey’s Tayyip Erdogan, to debate a deal aimed toward permitting the resumption of Ukraine’s Black Sea grain exports in addition to peace in Syria.

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Putin’s journey, which comes simply days after U.S. President Joe Biden visited Israel and Saudi Arabia, sends a powerful message to the West about Moscow’s plans to forge nearer strategic ties with Iran, China and India within the face of the Western sanctions.

“The contact with Khamenei is essential,” Yuri Ushakov, Putin’s international coverage adviser, informed reporters in Moscow. “A trusting dialog has developed between them on a very powerful points on the bilateral and worldwide agenda.”

“On most points, our positions are shut or equivalent.”

Putin may also meet Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi who was elected final yr.

BOTH SANCTIONED

For Iran, additionally chafing beneath Western financial sanctions and at loggerheads with the USA over Tehran’s nuclear program and a variety of different points, Putin’s go to is well timed.

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The specter of an rising U.S.-backed Gulf Arab-Israeli bloc that might tilt the Center East steadiness of energy additional away from Iran has accelerated its clerical rulers’ efforts to strengthen strategic relations with the Kremlin.

“Contemplating the evolving geopolitical ties after the Ukraine struggle, the (clerical) institution tries to safe Moscow’s help in Tehran’s confrontation with Washington and its regional allies,” mentioned a senior Iranian official, who requested to not be named.

Emboldened by excessive oil costs because the Ukraine struggle, Iran is betting that with Russia’s help it may strain Washington to supply concessions for the revival of a 2015 nuclear deal.

“We want a powerful ally and Moscow is a superpower,” mentioned a senior Iranian official, who requested to not be recognized.

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Nonetheless, Russia’s elevated tilt in direction of Beijing in latest months has considerably lowered Iran’s crude exports to China – a key supply of revenue for Tehran since U.S. President Donald Trump reimposed sanctions in 2018.

In Might, Reuters reported that Iran’s crude exports to China have fallen sharply as Beijing favored closely discounted Russian barrels, leaving nearly 40 million barrels of Iranian oil saved on tankers at sea in Asia and searching for consumers.

SYRIA, UKRAINE

Excessive on the agenda in Tuesday’s trilateral talks that may also embrace Turkey will probably be efforts to scale back violence in Syria, the place Erdogan has threatened to launch extra navy operations to increase 30-km (20-mile) deep “protected zones” alongside the border. Moscow and Tehran each oppose any such motion by Turkey.

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Russia and Iran are Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s strongest backers, whereas Turkey helps anti-Assad insurgents.

Putin, who turns 70 this yr, has made few international journeys in recent times as a result of COVID pandemic after which the Ukraine disaster. His final journey past the previous Soviet Union was to China in February.

His bilateral talks with Erdogan will concentrate on a plan to get Ukrainian grain exports shifting once more.

“The talks will attempt to clear up the problems on grain exports,” mentioned a senior Turkish official was requested anonymity.

Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the United Nations are anticipated to signal a deal later this week aimed toward resuming the transport of grain from Ukraine throughout the Black Sea.

Any Turkish operation in Syria would assault the Kurdish YPG militia, a key a part of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) that controls giant elements of north Syria and is regarded by Washington as an vital ally in opposition to Islamic State.

The senior Turkish official mentioned Turkey’s deliberate operation could be mentioned, as would reviews that Russia and the Kurds had been performing collectively in some areas of Syria. (Extra reporting by Orhan Coskun in Ankara; Writing by Man Faulconbridge, Modifying by William Maclean and Gareth Jones)

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