Vladimir Putin ended his first major summit outside Russia since the invasion of Ukraine by endorsing Iran over its response to NATO, clashing with Turkey over Syria and signs of progress in lifting the Russian blockade of Ukrainian grain.
The White House said that the Tehran summit between Putin, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoganshowed how isolated the Russian leader had become – a point not shared by Moscow, which argued it showed Russia was still respected in the Middle East.
In a day of tense diplomacy that included bilateral talks followed by a trilateral summit on Syria, Putin praised the Turkish leader for brokering grain export talks with Ukrainehaving said that there is some progress.
Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine has disrupted the supply of one of the world’s largest exporters of wheat and other grains, causing fear of global food shortages.
In an attempt to broker a deal that would see the Russian navy lift its blockade of ports such as Odessa, the EU agreed to unfreeze economic resources belonging to seven of Russia’s biggest creditors until it can be shown that the resources are needed to buy, import or transport agricultural and food products, including wheat and fertilizers.
After the 1936 Montreux Convention. Turkeya NATO member, is responsible for maritime traffic entering the Black Sea.
Putin’s meeting with Erdogan was his first meeting with the head of the government NATO and his trip to Tehran was his second outside of Russia since the invasion of Ukraine.
Erdogan is leading efforts to broker a deal under which grain can leave ports provided the ships are independently inspected for weapons. More than 25 million tons of grain, which is urgently needed in Africa and the Middle East, is now stored in bunkers.
Putin received the approval of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameneifor invading Ukraine.
Khamenei told Putin: “War is a harsh and difficult subject Iran it is not at all satisfying that ordinary people suffer from this, but in the case of Ukraine, if you had not taken the initiative, the other side would have started a war with its own initiative.
“If NATO’s road is open, it knows no borders, and if it had not been stopped in Ukraine, after some time they would have started the same war under the pretext of Crimea.”
He said that Russia and Iran need to gradually work together to reduce the strength of the dollar.
Putin echoed Iran’s view that it had no choice but to invade, saying: “No one is in favor of war and the loss of ordinary people is a great tragedy, but the behavior of the West has left us with no choice but to to react Some European countries said: “We were against Ukraine’s membership in NATO, but we agreed under the pressure of the United States,” which shows their lack of independence.
Russia and Iran also agreed to sign a long-term memorandum of cooperation on oil contracts worth $40bn (£33bn).
However, the atmosphere of cordial consensus displayed by Russia and Iran did not divide Erdogan when it came to his ambitions to intervene in the northern Syria.
The Turkish president, potentially taking advantage of Putin’s distraction in Ukraine, has been preparing a new military invasion of northern Syria in an attempt to build a buffer zone 30 km south of the Turkish-Syrian border.
He argues that the buffer zone will protect Turkey from attacks by Syrian Kurds led by the US-backed YPG militia, and also provide space for the voluntary return of some 1 million Syrian refugees from Turkey. Returning the refugees would boost Erdogan’s chances of re-election next year.
But Khamenei voiced broad objections to the new Turkish invasion, saying it would certainly harm Syria, Turkey and the region.
Erdogan, speaking at the start of the trilateral meeting, appeared to assert his unilateral right to invade, saying that “Turkey cannot be expected to sit idly by and stay away from this problem.” He said that the 30-kilometer barrier is necessary to fight against the hotbeds of terrorism in northern Syria.
Turkey views the YPG as indistinguishable from Turkish Kurdish terrorist groups.
Erdogan’s next steps will depend on whether he trusts a private green light from Iran and Moscow that they will not intervene to prevent the planned buffer zone.
Russia appears to be working with the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad to establish a Syrian military presence in the border region with the tacit support of the YPG.