President Vladimir V. Putin will travel to Tehran next week for meetings with the leaders of Iran and Turkey, taking him through difficult diplomatic ground as he seeks to forge closer ties with two sometimes-aligned nations , and sometimes strongly at odds, with Russia and with each other. .
Mr Putin, who has drastically limited his travel during the pandemic, has engaged in a flurry of recent diplomacy, seeking to bolster military and economic support from non-Western countries to counter Western military assistance to the Ukraine and its sanctions against Russia.
During a visit to Central Asia last week, his first trip abroad since Russia invaded Ukraine, Mr Putin – who had recently compared himself to Peter the Great – held court among his close allies and insisted that the war was going as planned.
Putin’s latest diplomatic push comes as President Biden prepares to travel to the Middle East this week to meet 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 planes on the battlefield. . Analysts say Russia also sees Iran as an important new economic partner, offering a trade route and expertise to circumvent sanctions and export oil.
But Mr Putin may also need to ease relations with Iran as Russia eats away at its share of the global oil market, while trying to find common ground with NATO member Turkey. Despite Moscow’s objections, Turkey recently lifted its objections to the alliance’s expansion along Russia’s borders.
High fuel prices have boosted Russia’s revenue as it has made incremental military gains in Ukraine, but Western sanctions have further hurt its economy and restricted its ability to build or buy technology for military use.
In Tehran, the Iranian capital, Mr Putin will also hold peace talks on Syria, a decade-old conflict in which Iran and Russia have backed the government and Turkey has backed an opposing rebel faction. Putin will meet Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as well as separate meetings with each, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry S. Peskov told reporters on Tuesday.
Mr Erdogan, whose country shares the Black Sea coast with Russia and Ukraine, has become the most active mediator between Mr Putin and President Volodymyr Zelensky. Turkey is in talks to try to overcome the Russian blockade of more than 20 million tons of Ukrainian products grain exports, which intensified a global food crisis.
Turkey will host delegations from Ukraine, Russia and the United Nations in Istanbul on Wednesday for talks on resuming grain shipments, the Turkish Defense Ministry said.
Iran, Russia’s long ally in its confrontation with the West, is becoming even more central to Mr. 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 and strategic nature,” Putin told Raisi in Turkmenistan, noting that trade between the two countries grew by 81 percent last year.
At a summit meeting 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 hailed Iran’s membership as a step that would strengthen the organization “as one of the key centers of the emerging multipolar world order,” diluting the global influence of the United States.