Putin Meets Turkish, Iranian Leaders in Tehran

Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei blames West for war in Ukraine
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 19, 2022 8:35 PM CDT
During Putin Visit, Iran Says It Supports War in Ukraine
Russian President Vladimir Putin upon his arrival at an International Airport outside Tehran, Iran, Tuesday, July 19, 2022.   (Konstantin Zavragin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin won staunch support from Iran on Tuesday for his country’s military campaign in Ukraine, with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei saying the West opposes an "independent and strong" Russia. Khamenei said that if Russia hadn’t sent troops into Ukraine, it would have faced an attack from NATO later, a statement that echoed Putin's own rhetoric and reflected increasingly close ties between Moscow and Tehran as they both face crippling Western sanctions, the AP reports.

"If the road would have been open to NATO, it will not recognize any limit and boundary," Khamenei told Putin. Had Moscow not acted first, he added, the Western alliance "would have waged a war" to return the Crimean Peninsula that Russia seized from Ukraine in 2014 back to Kyiv's control. In only his second trip abroad since Russia launched the military action in February—and his first outside the countries of the former Soviet Union—Putin conferred with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the conflict in Syria. He used the trip to discuss a UN-backed proposal to resume exports of Ukrainian grain to ease the global food crisis

Speaking to Erdogan as their meeting began, Putin thanked him for his mediation to help "move forward" a deal on Ukrainian grain exports. "Not all the issues have been resolved yet, but it's good that there has been some progress," Putin added. He later told reporters that Moscow would accept a deal to facilitate Ukrainian grain shipments if the West lifts restrictions on Russian grain exports. UN, Russian, Ukrainian and Turkish officials had reached a tentative agreement on some aspects of a deal to ensure the export of 22 million tons of desperately needed grain and other agricultural products trapped in Ukraine’s Black Sea ports by the fighting.

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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—despite decades of animosity stemming from Russia’s occupation of Iran during World War II. In a sign of increasingly close military cooperation, Russian officials in recent weeks visited an airfield in central Iran at least twice to review Tehran’s weapons-capable drones for possible use in Ukraine, the White House has alleged. Putin hailed the importance of close ties between Moscow and Tehran at his meetings with the Iranian leaders and offered strong support to Tehran over the deadlocked nuclear deal. (More Iran stories.)

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