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HomeWorldVladimir Putin arrives in Iran for first trip outside former Soviet Union...

Vladimir Putin arrives in Iran for first trip outside former Soviet Union since Ukraine invasion

Putin met with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in Tehran, and was scheduled to hold discussions with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He also met with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei on Tuesday, according to Iranian state news agency IRNA.

“I am very pleased to be on the hospitable Iranian soil…We can boast about record figures in terms of trade growth,” said Putin in a bilateral meeting with Raisi.

“We are strengthening our cooperation on international security issues, making a significant contribution to the settlement of the Syrian conflict.”

Raisi also hailed a “significant” commitment to security cooperation between the two countries.

“There has been good experience of the two countries in fighting terrorism, which I think has brought security to the region,” he said.

Russia’s relationship with Iran has alerted Western officials as he prepares to ramp up ground offensives in eastern Ukraine following his troops’ capture of the Luhansk region.

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, with Iran preparing to begin training Russian forces on how to operate them as early as late July, according to White House officials.

“Russia turning to Iran for the help speaks volumes about the degree to which both nations, for their actions into different areas of the world, have been increasingly isolated by the international community,” the National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications John Kirby told CNN last week.

Putin’s trip to Iran will also see him meet face-to-face with Erdogan — the leader of NATO member Turkey — and comes after the Erdogan repeated his threat to block the ascension of Sweden and Finland to the alliance after conditionally agreeing to green light their bid in June.

“I would like to remind you once again that we will freeze the process if they do not take the necessary steps to fulfill our conditions,” Erdogan said Monday after a cabinet meeting. He lifted his opposition to the expansion at a NATO summit last month — a major diplomatic breakthrough that provided a blow to Putin.

Putin and Erdogan are set to discuss the issue of exporting grain from Ukrainian ports, the Kremlin said ahead of the trip, according to state news agencies RIA Novosti and TASS. The visit comes amid Ukrainian claims that more than 20 million tons of grain remain stuck in Ukraine due to the Russian blockade of various Black Sea ports.

“The work is very active. You know that on July 13, the first four-party meeting on grain was held in Istanbul with the participation of representatives of Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the UN. We are ready to continue work on this track, this work will be continued,” aide to the Russian President, Yury Ushakov, said at a briefing as quoted by RIA.

Khamenei warns Erdogan off military campaign in Syria

Ahead of the summit, Khamenei warned Erdogan not to start a military operation in the north of Syria, state news agency IRNA also reported.

“A military attack in the north of Syria would be to the detriment of Turkey and benefit terrorists,” Khamenei reportedly told Erdogan in Tehran.

His warning came amid threats by Erdogan to launch a new military offensive designed to push back Syrian Kurdish fighters belonging to the YPG, which Turkey views as a terrorist organization.

“This move would definitely harm Syria, Turkey and the region and it will not create the expected political action by the Syrians,” Khamenei warned.

“The Syrian issue should be resolved through negotiations and Iran, Turkey, Syria and Russia will carry out discussions on this issue,” he added.

CNN’s Mostafa Salem, Abdul Nasir, Ramin Mostaghim and Adam Pourahmadi contributed to this report.

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