New axis of evil? Panicked Putin to visit Iran TODAY in desperate scramble for support

Russia’s links with Iran discussed by former military adviser

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The meeting in Tehran will be the Russian President’s first trip outside Russia since the war in Ukraine began and his fifth meeting overall with Khamenei, Iran’s second supreme leader who came to power in 1989. Vladimir Putin has continued to cast attempts from the West to smash Russia with some of the most crippling sanctions in recent history as a declaration of economic war. As the war in Ukraine has progressed, there have been strong signs Russia has turned away from the West to strengthen ties with the likes of Iran, China and India.

Putin’s foreign policy adviser Yuri Ushakov gave an indication of just how important the trip to Iran and the subsequent with the Supreme Leader could prove to be.

He said in Moscow: “The contact with Khamenei is very important. A trusting dialogue has developed between them on the most important issues on the bilateral and international agenda.”

“On most issues, our positions are close or identical.”

The Russian President’s crucial visit to Iran will coincide with one by Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan.

The two leaders will meet in the Iranian capital for talks on a deal aimed at resuming Ukraine’s Black Sea grain exports, and Mr Erdogan’s threat to launch another operation in northern Syria, which Moscow opposes.

Putin’s activity outside Russia over recent years has been rare due to the Covid pandemic and the chaos created by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. His last trip outside the former Soviet Union was to China in February.

But by making his first major trip to Iran since the Ukraine war began, Putin is issuing a warning to the West that Russia is continuing to build relations with Iran – a bitter enemy of several other Western powers.

Iran’s plan to build ties with Russia is a way of balancing the clout of the US and its alliance with Arab rulers and Israel and is also hoping that with Russia’s support, it could pile pressure on Washington to offer concessions for the revival of a 2015 nuclear deal.

A senior Iranian official, who asked not to be identified, told Reuters: “We need a strong ally and Moscow is a superpower.”

Political commentator Dmitry Evstafiev was quoted as saying in the Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda: “Europe and the US put pressure on everyone, demanding that all relations with Moscow be broken off.

“Now, after four months of hostilities, we can safely talk about the failure of the boycott.”

The conflict in Syria will also be a key topic during talks, which are being held as part of a five-year diplomatic effort to resolve the war between Bashar Assad’s regime and rebel groups.

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Strikingly from as timing perspective, the crunch talks will follow US President Joe Biden’s visit to Israel and Saudi Arabia last week in an attempt to strengthen ties with countries Washington considers allies and present a united front against Russia and Iran.

But experts have warned that Russian and Iranian interests have grown even more aligned recently.

Nicole Graweski, a researcher specialising in Russia-Iran relations at Harvard University’s Belfer Centre for Science and International Affairs, said: “What we’ve seen since the Ukraine war started is that Russia has paid a lot more attention to its relationship with Iran.

Putin’s visit to Iran comes with reports highlighted by US and Iranian officials that Tehran is selling combat drones to Russia.

White House official Jake Sullivan claimed Russian military officials had visited an Iranian military base this month to watch the drones in action.

He said: “To our knowledge, this is the first time a Russian delegation has visited this airfield for such a showcase.”

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