Putin arrives in Iran as he looks to create new anti-West alliance and secure Tehran’s drones

Vladimir Putin arrives in Iran today to forge a fearsome new alliance, with both sanction-hit countries united by their hatred for the West.

The Russian leader will meet President Raisi and Ayatollah Khamenei, the Islamic Republic’s supreme leader, during the talks aimed at boosting ties between the regimes.

It is only the second time Putin has been abroad since launching his brutal invasion of Ukraine five months ago.

The meeting comes amid warnings from the US last week that Iran is preparing to sell drones to Russia to use in Ukraine.

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said Tehran is planning to provide ‘hundreds’ of combat drones to Moscow, and Iranian soldiers will train their Russian counterparts in how to use the drones – with lessons beginning in just a few weeks.

Vladimir Putin is seen shaking hands with Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi during their meeting in Turkmenistan last month

A Russian delegation visited an Iranian airfield on June 8 and July 5 to inspect the drones which could be used to direct artillery fire and destroy Ukrainian military hardware, the White House said. 

It has been suggested that Russia will offer unspecified military assistance in exchange for the drones.

The gathering has symbolic meaning for Putin’ back home, showing off Russia’s international clout as it grows increasingly isolated and plunges deeper into confrontation with the West. 

Russian state TV propagandist Yevgeny Popov said the two nations will form an ‘axis of good’, mocking George W. Bush’s ‘axis of evil’ description of Iran, Iraq and North Korea. 

Andrey Kortunov, head of the Russian International Affairs Council, said: ‘This is an important visit for Putin personally.

The Iranian Army launches a drone carrying a missile during military drills, with Russia expected to receive a shipment

The Iranian Army launches a drone carrying a missile during military drills, with Russia expected to receive a shipment

The Iranian Army launches a drone carrying a missile during military drills, with Russia expected to receive a shipment

‘The Kremlin doesn’t want to allow itself to be isolated internationally.’ 

It comes just days after US President Joe Biden’s visited Israel and Saudi Arabia – Iran’s primary rivals in the region. 

Iran has rapidly advanced its nuclear program since former President Donald Trump abandoned the atomic accord and reimposed crushing sanctions, while Russia has also frequently issued nuclear sabre-rattling against the West.

Backed into a corner by the West and its regional rivals, Iran is ramping up uranium enrichment, cracking down on dissent and grabbing headlines with optimistic, hard-line stances intended to keep the Iranian currency from crashing. 

Without sanctions relief in sight, Iran’s tactical partnership with Russia has become one of survival, even as Moscow appears to be undercutting Tehran in the black market oil trade.

‘Iran is (the) centre of dynamic diplomacy,’ Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian wrote on Twitter, adding the meetings will ‘develop economic cooperation, focus on security of the region via political solution … and ensure food security.’

A Russian delegation visited an Iranian airfield on June 8 and July 5 to inspect the drones which could be used to direct artillery fire and destroy Ukrainian military hardware

A Russian delegation visited an Iranian airfield on June 8 and July 5 to inspect the drones which could be used to direct artillery fire and destroy Ukrainian military hardware

A Russian delegation visited an Iranian airfield on June 8 and July 5 to inspect the drones which could be used to direct artillery fire and destroy Ukrainian military hardware

Fadahossein Maleki, a member of the Iranian parliament’s influential committee on national security and foreign policy, described Russia as Iran’s ‘most strategic partner’ on Monday. 

His comments belied decades of animosity stemming from Russia’s occupation of Iran during World War II – and its refusal to leave afterward.

Putin’s foreign affairs adviser Yuri Ushakov called Iran ‘an important partner for Russia’ in a briefing Monday, saying the countries shared ‘a desire to take their relations to a new level of strategic partnership.’

In his fifth visit to Tehran, Putin will meet Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, with whom he has a ‘trusting dialogue,’ Ushakov said. 

He will also hold talks with President Raisi on issues including Tehran’s nuclear deal, of which Russia is a key signatory. The leaders met in Moscow in January and again last month in Turkmenistan.

The focus of the talks among the three presidents will be the decade-old conflict in Syria, where Iran and Russia have backed President Bashar Assad’s government, while Turkey has supported armed opposition factions. 

Putin will also meet with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan today, who has sought to help broker talks with Ukraine

Putin will also meet with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan today, who has sought to help broker talks with Ukraine

Putin will also meet with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan today, who has sought to help broker talks with Ukraine

Russia intervened in the conflict in 2015, pooling efforts with Lebanon’s Hezbollah militants and Iranian forces and using its air power to shore up Assad’s fledgling military and ultimately turning the tide in his favour.

Ushakov said the parties will discuss efforts to encourage a political settlement, while Erdogan is expected to take up Turkey’s threats of a new military offensive in northern Syria to drive away U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish fighters from its borders.

The operation is part of Turkey’s plans to create a safe zone along its border with Syria that would encourage the voluntary return of Syrian refugees.

Russia strongly opposes to the planned Turkish incursion, Ushakov stressed. Humanitarian issues in Syria have also come into focus since Russia used its veto power at the U.N. Security Council last week to force a restriction in aid deliveries to 4.1 million people in Syria’s rebel-held northwest after six months, instead of a year.

Talks to lift a Russian blockade and get Ukraine’s grain into global markets will also be on the agenda. 

Last week, U.N., Russian, Ukrainian and Turkish officials reached a tentative agreement on some aspects of a deal to ensure the export of 22million tons of desperately needed grain and other agricultural products trapped in Ukraine’s Black Sea ports by the fighting. 

Putin will also meet with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan today, who has sought to help broker talks on a peaceful settlement of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, as well as help negotiations to unblock Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea.

Turkey, a NATO member, has found itself opposite Russia in bloody conflicts in Azerbaijan, Libya and Syria. 

But Turkey hasn’t imposed sanctions on the Kremlin, making it a sorely needed partner for Moscow. Grappling with runaway inflation and a rapidly depreciating currency, Turkey also relies on the Russian market.

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