Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday (19) that there had been progress in negotiations on the export of grain through the Black Sea. He thanked the Turkish head of state, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, for mediating discussions on the issue. In Tehran, the two leaders participate in a summit on Syria, coordinated by Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.
“Thanks to your mediation, we were able to move forward. It is true that not all problems have been resolved yet, but there are changes, and that is good,” Putin said in a statement sent by the Kremlin.
In the document, the Russian president is full of praise for Erdogan’s “efforts”. “I would like to thank you for having proposed Turkey as a negotiating ground on the problem of food production, the problems of grain exports in the Black Sea,” he reiterated.
Putin and Erdogan traveled to Tehran to discuss the conflict in Syria, under the leadership of Iran, but the war in Ukraine is also on the agenda. At the meeting, Turkish and Russian leaders jointly discussed the mechanisms to allow the export of cereals from Ukraine, blocked by the Russian military offensive, through maritime corridors.
Last Friday (15), the Russian Defense Ministry said that a “final document” that allows the export of grain will be ready soon. According to Kremlin diplomatic adviser Yuri Ouchakov, a coordination center should also be opened in Istanbul to enable these Black Sea exports.
The agreement, negotiated by the UN, aims to bring about 20 million tons of grain blocked in Ukrainian silos because of the Russian offensive in the country.
According to the Kremlin, during his meeting with Erdogan, the Russian president also addressed “various matters” regarding the resolution of the war in Syria, as well as “the other important issue”, the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountainous region in dispute between Armenia. and Azerbaijan. Putin reportedly expressed his joy at meeting the Turkish leader despite their “very busy schedules”.
Erdogan said he hoped to have “the support of Russia and Iran in the fight against terrorism” in Syria. According to him, “words alone will not be enough” to move the issue forward. The Turkish president classifies the main Kurdish movements operating in northeast Syria, on the border with Turkey, where he threatens to intervene, as terrorists.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also met with Putin and Erdogan on Tuesday. He called for “long-term cooperation” with Russia, “advantageous to both countries”, in an official statement. “There are agreements and contracts between the two nations in the oil and gas sectors that must continue to be fully implemented,” he reiterated.
Putin has promised that Russia will “preserve its independence” from the United States, an initiative hailed by Khamenei. For the supreme leader, “the US dollar must be gradually withdrawn from world trade.”
On the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Khamenei stated that, despite lamenting the suffering of civilians, Russia had limited room for manoeuvre. “If you hadn’t taken the initiative, the other camp [Kiev] would have provoked a war of its own,” he said.
The meeting in Tehran comes days after US President Joe Biden’s trip to the Middle East, when he visited Israel and Saudi Arabia, two countries hostile to Iran. The discussion about the Iranian nuclear program was even one of the main topics of the US president’s visit.
According to the United States, Russia plans to buy hundreds of drones made in Iran. The information was denied by Iran and the Kremlin declined to comment. However, Vincent Tourret, a researcher at the French NGO Foundation for Strategic Research, believes that negotiation is quite possible, as the Iranians have the technology that Russia lacks.
“Iranian drones are low cost, easy to use and simple to reproduce, which could be of interest to Russia. The Russians have observation drones, they started to develop and produce Orion, but they lagged behind creating a drone that could observe and attack, and that’s what the Iranians can provide,” the expert said.