Vladimir Putin is visiting Iran on his first trip outside the former Soviet Union since the invasion of Ukraine

Putin met with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in Tehran, and with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He also met Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei on Tuesday.

“I am happy to be on a hospitable Iranian soil… We can boast record numbers in terms of trade growth,” Putin said in a bilateral meeting with Raisi. “We are strengthening our cooperation on international security issues and are contributing significantly to the settlement of the Syrian conflict,” he added.

Raisi also praised the “important” commitment to security cooperation between the two countries, saying the two countries have “good experience” in combating terrorism.

Also on Tuesday, the National Iranian Oil Company signed a $40 billion agreement with Russia’s state-owned gas company Gazprom, according to a statement issued by the Iranian Oil Ministry’s Shana news agency. The agreement includes the development of Iranian gas fields and the construction of new pipelines to export gas.

On the other hand, Khamenei praised the mutual cooperation between Russia and Iran, describing it as “very beneficial.”

“Global events demonstrate the need for Iran and Russia to increase mutual cooperation,” he said in a statement.

Referring to Putin’s war in Ukraine, Khamenei also said that the expansion of the Western North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) security must be “stopped”.

“NATO is a dangerous entity. The West is totally opposed to a strong and independent Russia. If the road is opened for NATO, it will not recognize any borders,” Khamenei said. “Had he not been stopped in Ukraine, he would have subsequently started a similar war in Crimea.”

Russia’s relationship with Iran has alerted Western officials as Putin prepares to intensify ground attacks in eastern Ukraine after his forces seized the Luhansk region.

Exclusive: Russians visited Iran at least twice in the last month to check out weapons-capable drones
Recently declassified US intelligence indicates that Iran is expected to supply Russia with “hundreds” of drones – including weapons capable drones – for use in the war in Ukraine, as Iran prepares to begin training Russian forces On how to run early. in late July, according to White House officials.

“Russia’s resort to Iran for help speaks volumes about the degree to which the two countries, due to their actions in different regions of the world, are increasingly isolated by the international community,” National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications, John Kirby, told CNN. last week.

The meeting also comes amid stalled talks to revive the Iran nuclear deal, of which the US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany are among the original signatories.

Robert Malley, the US special envoy for Iran, told CNN on Monday that the prospect of reviving the 2015 deal was “diminishing by the day.”

Putin thanks Erdogan for his role as mediator

Among the topics of discussion between Putin and Erdogan was the issue of grain exports from Ukraine. The Ukrainian government accused Russia of obstructing the shipment of more than 20 million tons of grain.

Putin thanked Erdogan for his efforts in mediating between the two countries. “By your mediation, we have moved forward,” he said. “However, not all issues have been resolved. But what is really good.”

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Erdogan said diplomatic talks between the two countries are continuing.

“It is a great advantage that we are able to do this,” Erdogan said, adding that in the context of Turkey’s role as a mediator, he was “confident that Russia’s approach remains positive.”

Putin’s visit comes after Erdogan – the leader of Turkey, a NATO member – repeated his threat to block the accession of Sweden and Finland to the alliance, after they conditionally agreed to the green light for their bid in June.

“I would like to remind you once again that we will freeze the operation if they do not take the necessary steps to fulfill our conditions,” Erdogan said on Monday after a cabinet meeting.

He raised his opposition to the expansion at a NATO summit last month – a major diplomatic breakthrough that dealt a blow to Putin.

Khamenei warns Erdogan against military campaign in Syria

Prior to the summit, the Iranian Islamic Republic News Agency reported that Khamenei warned Erdogan against starting a military operation in northern Syria.

Khamenei reportedly told Erdogan in Tehran that “any military attack in northern Syria would be at Turkey’s expense and benefit the terrorists.”

The United Nations says more than 300,000 have been killed in the Syrian conflict over a decade

Erdogan previously threatened to launch a new military offensive aimed at repelling Syrian Kurdish fighters affiliated with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Turkey considers a terrorist organization.

Khamenei warned that “this step will certainly harm Syria, Turkey and the region and will not create the political action expected by the Syrians.”

He added that “the Syrian issue must be resolved through negotiations, and Iran, Turkey, Syria and Russia will hold discussions on this issue.”

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Raisi also called on foreign forces to leave Syria and blamed the instability on “US occupation forces”.

“We believe that only the Syrian nation should take a decision in its internal affairs without interference from other countries,” he said.

He stressed that the only possible solution to the Syrian conflict is a political one, adding that military action will worsen the security situation.

CNN’s Mostafa Salem, Abdel Nasser, Ramin Mostaghem, Claire Calzonetti, Emmett Lyons, Dia Dekbas and Adam Bouhrhamdi contributed to this report.

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