President Vladimir Putin met Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on his second trip abroad since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The Russian President arrived in Iran on Tuesday, intending on deepening ties with the regional heavyweights as part of Moscow’s challenge to the United States and Europe amid its grinding campaign in Ukraine.
The leaders discussed pressing issues in the region including the conflict in Syria and a UN-backed proposal to resume exports of Ukrainian grain to ease the global food crisis.
Putin is looking to strengthen ties with Tehran, a fellow target of severe US sanctions and a potential military and trade partner, as the West continues to heap sanctions on Russia and the costly campaign drags on.
Iran rolled out a long red carpet for Putin at Tehran’s Mehrabad airport, where Iranian Oil Minister Javad Owji greeted him warmly before he was whisked away into his presidential convoy to the city.
The Tehran trip offers Putin a crucial chance for a high-stakes meeting with Erdogan, who has sought to help broker talks on a peaceful settlement of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, as well as help negotiations to unblock Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea.
Turkey, a NATO member, has found itself opposite Russia in bloody conflicts in Azerbaijan, Libya and Syria. It has even sold lethal drones that Ukrainian forces have used to attack Russian troops. But Turkey hasn’t imposed sanctions on the Kremlin, making it a sorely needed partner for Moscow.
The gathering has symbolic meaning for Putin’s domestic audience as well, showing off Russia’s international power even as it grows isolated and descends deeper into a confrontation with the West. The meeting comes just days after US President Joe Biden’s visited Israel and Saudi Arabia: Tehran’s primary rivals.