President Vladimir V. Putin will visit Tehran next week to meet with the leaders of Iran and Turkey, taking him into challenging diplomatic territory as he seeks to strengthen ties with two nations that are sometimes aligned, and sometimes are at odds with Russia and with each other .
Mr Putin, who has radically curtailed his travel during the pandemic, has recently engaged in a wave of diplomacy, seeking to bolster military and economic support with non-Western countries to support the West’s military aid to Ukraine and the sanctions against Russia.
On a visit to Central Asia last week, his first foreign trip since Russia invaded Ukraine, Mr Putin – who had recently compared himself to Peter the Great – courted his closest allies and insisted the war went according to plan.
Mr Putin’s latest diplomatic push comes as President Biden prepares to travel to the Middle East this week to meet with the leaders of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.
Biden’s national security adviser said on Monday that Russia was seeking drones from Iran, including those capable of firing missiles, to make up for its scarcity of unmanned, armed surveillance aircraft on the battlefield. Analysts say Russia also sees Iran as a new key economic partner, providing a trade route and expertise in sanctions evasion and oil exports.
But Mr Putin may also need to appease relations with Iran as Russia eats up its share of the global oil market as he tries to reach an agreement with Turkey, a NATO member. Aside from Moscow’s objections, Turkey recently lifted its objections to expanding the alliance along Russia’s borders.
High fuel prices have boosted Russia’s revenues as it has made gradual military gains in Ukraine, but Western sanctions have still hurt its economy and limited its ability to build or buy technology for military use.
In Tehran, the Iranian capital, Mr Putin will also hold peace talks over Syria, a decade-old conflict in which Iran and Russia have supported the government and Turkey has supported an opposing rebel group. Mr Putin will meet with President Ebrahim Raisi of Iran and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, as well as meet with each individually, Kremlin spokesman Dmitri S. Peskov told reporters on Tuesday.
Mr Erdogan, whose country shares the Black Sea coast with both Russia and Ukraine, has emerged as the most active mediator between Mr Putin and President Volodymyr Zelensky. Turkey is in talks to try to break Russian blockade of more than 20 million tons of Ukrainian oil grain exports, which have exacerbated a global food crisis.
Turkey will receive delegations from Ukraine, Russia and the United Nations in Istanbul on Wednesday for negotiations to resume grain shipments, the Turkish defense ministry said.
Iran, long a Russian ally in its confrontation with the West, is becoming even more important in Putin’s diplomacy because of the war in Ukraine. Mr Putin met Mr Raisi on the sidelines of a regional summit in Turkmenistan last month, and spoke to him on the phone in early June, according to the Kremlin.
“Our relationship is of a really deep, strategic nature,” Mr Putin told Turkmenistan’s Mr Raisi, noting that trade between the two countries increased by 81 percent last year.
At a summit in Uzbekistan in September, Iran is expected to join a multilateral security group, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which already includes Russia and China. Sergey V. Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, last month praised Iran’s accession as a step that would strengthen the organization “as one of the main centers of the emerging multipolar world order”, thereby extending the United States’ global influence. take.