The Russian President has arrived in Tehran. There he held talks with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Ebrahim Raisi, as well as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The announced topics of discussion are the situation in Syria, grain exports, and bilateral cooperation. Russia and Iran have tried to demonstrate that their positions in the international arena largely coincide and have more similarities than differences. NG.
The visit of the Russian president is the second foreign one since the beginning of the special operation. Previously, he flew only to Ashgabat, to the 6th Caspian Summit. This alone testified to the great importance attached by the Russian authorities to this visit. In addition, in Iran, where Putin last visited four years ago, he was expected in 2020. But the pandemic got in the way.
The United States has also added intrigue to Putin’s current trip. The New York Times reported that Russia had reached an agreement in principle with Iran to supply the Russian army with Iranian drones. US officials were quick to inform Tehran’s Arab geopolitical rivals, including Saudi Arabia, about this. State Department spokesman Ned Price threatened Iran with sanctions if the drones were handed over to Russia. True, he did not specify whether this Russian-Iranian agreement would affect the already stalled process of negotiations on returning to the terms of the “nuclear deal” with Iran. It is these negotiations, which, if successful, will lead to the lifting of the most painful anti-Iranian sanctions, that Tehran is now most concerned about. Be that as it may, the fact of an agreement on drones has not been officially confirmed either by the Iranian Foreign Ministry or the Russian Foreign Ministry. On the contrary, both Moscow and Tehran deny that it is taking place.
Turkish operation in Syria
The formal reason for the visit of the Russian leader is Syria. Tehran has long been chosen as the next venue for the Astana format summit on the Syrian settlement with the participation of the leaders of Russia, Turkey and Iran. Actually, the Syrian negotiation process itself has frankly stalled lately. Thus, on the eve of Putin’s visit to Tehran, another round of constitutional negotiations in Geneva was cancelled. The initiator of the cancellation was the Russian side, which, after Switzerland joined the anti-Russian sanctions, does not consider this country as a neutral intermediary in any matters. Earlier, Russian Presidential Envoy for Syria Alexander Lavrentiev named several countries as possible venues for a new round of talks: the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kazakhstan, and Oman. All this, of course, could not but become a subject of discussion at the meetings of the leaders of the “Astana troika”.
Turkey intends to fight the Kurds in Syria. Iran and Russia vs.
Finally, Turkey’s intention to conduct another military operation in Syria creates an additional problem. It will take place, as Erdogan said, in Tell Rifaat and Manbij, and possibly in some other Syrian cities controlled by Kurdish formations. Iran categorically opposes this. On Tuesday, Ali Khamenei said that the Turkish intention could harm the entire region. He personally informed the Turkish leader about his dissatisfaction with the upcoming operation in Syria. Be that as it may, Erdogan was optimistic in Tehran and even stated that the summit of the “Astana troika” would help re-evaluate the entire peace process in Syria.
However, the agenda of his personal negotiations with Putin is not limited to issues related to this country. As Yury Ushakov, aide to the President of the Russian Federation, confirmed, both leaders planned to discuss in Tehran the issue of exporting Ukrainian grain. Last week, the Russian Federation, Turkey, Ukraine, as well as UN representatives held talks in Istanbul. As expected, on July 20-21, the document “Black Sea Initiative” will be ready, which will prescribe the conditions for transporting grain from Ukrainian ports.
The Russian leader also demonstrated optimism in Tehran. “We are strengthening our cooperation on international security issues. We are making a significant contribution to the settlement of the Syrian crisis,” Putin said before meeting with Raisi. The President of the Russian Federation also noted a noticeable increase in trade between the two countries. And Raisi, in turn, expressed the hope that Putin’s visit would be a “turning point” in the development of relations between the two countries, in terms of issues “both on the regional and international agenda.”
First fruits of the visit
Against the backdrop of Vladimir Putin’s visit to Tehran, Russia’s Gazprom and the National Iranian Oil Company NIOC signed a memorandum of understanding and concluded a $40 billion deal, which includes, among other things, the development of two gas and six oil fields.
The deal was closed online in a virtual ceremony attended by Gazprom Deputy Chairman Vitaly Markelov and NIOC head Mohsen Heustemer.
Planned projects include the development of the Kish and North Pars gas fields, the completion of previously launched projects for the supply of liquefied natural gas and the construction of export gas pipelines.
Iran has the second largest reserves of natural gas after Russia, but US sanctions prevent Tehran from accessing new technologies for its production and hinder the development of gas exports.
accustomed to sanctions
The visit will give Putin an opportunity to deepen ties with Iran, one of Moscow’s few remaining international allies that has been under Western sanctions for years, experts say. BBC.
Russia and Iran are accustomed to sanctions, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the day before. “Iran has been under various sanctions for decades, and has already adapted well to developing and improving the well-being of its people,” he says.
Russia found itself under tough sanctions after the start of the war in Ukraine. Neither Iran nor Turkey joined them.