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

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

“I am very happy to be on the hospitable soil of Iran… We can boast of record numbers in terms of trade growth,” Putin said during 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, saying the two countries had “good experience” in the fight against terrorism.

Also on Tuesday, Iran’s national oil company signed a $40 billion deal with Russian gas company Gazprom, according to a statement from Shana, Iran’s Oil Ministry news agency. The agreement includes the development of Iranian gas fields and the construction of new gas export pipelines.

Khamenei meanwhile hailed the mutual cooperation between Russia and Iran as “deeply beneficial”.

“World events show that Iran and Russia need to increase mutual cooperation,” he said in a statement.

Referring to Putin’s war in Ukraine, Khamenei also said the expansion of the Western security alliance, NATO, must be “stopped”.

“NATO is a dangerous entity. The West is totally opposed to a strong and independent Russia. If the way is open for NATO, it will know no bounds,” Khamenei said. “If it hadn’t been stopped in Ukraine, it would have triggered a similar war in Crimea later.”

Russia’s relationship with Iran has alerted Western officials as Putin prepares to step up ground offensives in eastern Ukraine after his troops seized the Luhansk region.

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Recently declassified US intelligence indicates that Iran should supply Russia with ‘hundreds’ of drones – including weapons-capable drones – for use in the war in Ukraine, with Iran preparing to start training Russian forces on how to operate them as early as late July, according to White House officials.

“Russia turning to Iran for help speaks volumes to the extent to which the two nations, for their actions in different parts of the world, have been increasingly isolated by the international community,” he said. 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, whose first signatories include the United States, United Kingdom, France, China, Russia and Germany.

Robert Malley, the US special envoy for Iran, told CNN on Monday that the likelihood of reviving the 2015 deal is “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 has accused Russia of blocking the shipment of more than 20 million tons of grain.

Putin thanked Erdogan for his efforts to mediate between the two nations. “Thanks to your mediation, we have moved forward,” he said. “However, not all problems have been solved. But what was is already good.”

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Erdogan said diplomatic talks between the two nations continued.

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

Putin’s visit comes after Erdogan – the leader of NATO-member Turkey – repeated his threat to block the ascent of Sweden and Finland to the alliance, after conditionally agreeing to greenlight their offer 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 dealt Putin a blow.

Khamenei warns Erdogan against military campaign in Syria

Ahead of the summit, Iran’s Khamenei warned Erdogan not to launch a military operation in northern Syria, the official IRNA news agency also reported.

“A military attack in northern Syria would be detrimental to Turkey and beneficial to terrorists,” Khamenei reportedly told Erdogan in Tehran.

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Erdogan has previously threatened to launch a new military offensive aimed at repelling Syrian Kurdish fighters belonging to the YPG, which Turkey considers a terrorist organization.

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

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

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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 make a decision regarding its internal affairs, without interference from other countries,” he said.

The only possible solution to the Syrian conflict is political, he said, adding that military action would worsen the security situation.

CNN’s Mostafa Salem, Abdul Nasir, Ramin Mostaghim, Claire Calzonetti, Emmet Lyons, Ziya Dikbas and Adam Pourahmadi contributed to this report.

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