Strengthening Ties With Iran, Putin Meets With Supreme Leader In Tehran

Strengthening Ties With Iran, Putin Meets With Supreme Leader In Tehran

On the heels of President Biden's trip to the Middle East, which was aimed in part at galvanizing a regional alliance against Iran, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday visited Tehran in a move that promises to bolster cooperation between two targets of the U.S. empire.

“It’s the definition of pushback,” Ali Vaez, the Iran project director and senior adviser to the president of the International Crisis Group tells The Wall Street Journal. “They now share a vision of a coalition of sanctioned states, comprised of countries like Iran, Russia, China, Venezuela.”

In a rare foreign excursion during Russia's war in Ukraine, Putin met with Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Ebrahim Raisi, along with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.  

“Our relations are developing at a good pace,” said Putin as he began his meeting with Raisi. “We are strengthening our cooperation on international security issues, making a significant contribution to the settlement of the Syrian conflict.”

Before Putin's arrival, Russian gas producer Gazprom and Iran's national oil company signed a $40 billion deal in which Gazprom will help develop oil and gas fields, and complete liquefied natural gas facilities and gas export pipelines. 

That deal is a welcome shot in arm for Iran, whose economy continues to be suffocated by Western sanctions. The Ukraine war has had its own negative impact, per Reuters

In May, [we] reported that Iran's crude exports to China had fallen sharply as Beijing favored heavily discounted Russian barrels, leaving almost 40 million barrels of Iranian oil stored on tankers at sea in Asia and seeking buyers.

There are more dimensions to the growing economic cooperation between Russia and Iran. For example, in June, we reported on a pilot run of a new trade route connecting Russia to India via Iran, called the "International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC)." 

Strengthening Ties With Iran, Putin Meets With Supreme Leader In Tehran

Khamenei called for both Iran and Russia to use their own currencies in international commerce. "The U.S. dollar should be gradually taken off global trade," Khamenei said

The Supreme Leader also offered supportive sentiments regarding Putin's invasion of Ukraine:

"War is a hostile, harsh matter and the Islamic Republic never favors seeing ordinary people afflicted by wars. However, in the issue of Ukraine, had Russia not initiated taking action, the other side would have started a war...NATO is a dangerous entity. The West is totally opposed to a strong, independent Russia. If the way is opened for NATO, it will recognize no limits."

Asked about the trip, U.S. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby curiously declared that, while Biden went to the Middle East "to bring countries together," Putin's trip to Iran "just shows the degree to which Mr. Putin remains isolated now." Kirby should be reminded that, in meeting with Erdogan, Putin was engaging with the leader of a NATO country.  

Discussions with Erdogan touched on a pending deal to restart grain exports from Ukraine via the Black Sea, as well as violence in Syria. As Reuters reports:

Turkey has threatened to launch more military operations to extend 30-km (20-mile) deep 'safe zones' along the [Syria] border. Moscow and Tehran oppose any such action by Turkey...Russia and Iran are Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's strongest backers, while Turkey supports anti-Assad insurgents.

If Turkey were to attack, it would be against the Kurdish YPG militia. Though part of the American-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, Erdogan calls the YPG a "terrorist organization." 

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