Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Tehran on Tuesday for his first trip outside of the former Soviet Union since the onset of the invasion of Ukraine in late February.

Putin first met with Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi before the Islamic regime’s Supreme Leader Sayyid Ali Hosseini Khamenei met with the pair. Later in the day, Putin met with Raisi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, focusing on the latest developments in Syria, according to Iranian state news agency IRNA.

The agency released a photo from Putin’s meeting with the ayatollah, who reportedly told the Russian president that the United States should “be forced” to leave the eastern side of the Euphrates River in Syria.

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Iranian Supreme Leader Sayyid Ali Hosseini Khamenei in Tehran, July 19, 2022 (Photo: IRNA)

Khamenei has called for “stronger cooperation between Iran and Russia” vis-à-vis “deceiving western policies.” According to IRNA, Khamenei said the bilateral relations are beneficiary to both Russia and Iran in light of western sanctions against their economies.

In the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, Khamenei noted that “a war is a harsh way of resolving disputes.” Nevertheless, he told Putin that in Ukraine’s case, a war was inevitable. According to Khamenei, if Putin had not taken control of the situation, the other side would have caused a war by carrying out “its initiatives.”

“If NATO’s path had not been blocked in Ukraine, a while later, on pretext of the Crimean Peninsula, they would have begun the same war,” he said.

The United States believes that Iran is preparing to provide Russia with drones to use in Ukraine, according to U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, in a statement last week.

White House National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby said on Tuesday that there is no indication Iran has given the drones to Russia yet. Kirby said that Putin’s trip to Iran is indicative of Russia’s global isolation, reiterating his earlier comments.

“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,” Kirby said last week.

In the meeting with Putin, Khamenei stressed that the U.S. and the West have become “weaker,” despite their efforts and high spending in the region. He assured the Russian president that the West has “very low chances” of winning in the Middle East.

Both Putin and Khamenei called to increase efforts to move away from the U.S. dollar in bilateral and international transactions. Putin said that America is “taking advantage” of the U.S. dollar’s power through imposing sanctions but claimed that, in the long run, such policies will weaken global trust in the currency.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov called Western sanctions the price that Russia and Iran are paying for their independence. According to The Washington Post, Peskov said a strategic cooperation deal between the two countries is likely to be signed in the coming months.

Bloomberg reported that the trilateral talks on Syria highlighted the differences between Russia, Iran and Turkey.

Whereas Russia and Iran have supported Syrian President Bashar Al Assad in the Syrian civil war in recent years, Turkey has backed the Sunni rebels against Assad. However, Turkish forces often have coordinated their operations with Russia, which is still setting the tone in parts of the embattled country.

Turkey reportedly is planning another operation to push Kurdish fighters in northern Syria away from its border, but Iran believes such an action could be “harmful” for the region.

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

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