Vladimir Putin visits Iran. This is the first trip outside the former Soviet Union since the invasion of Ukraine.

Putin met with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in Tehran and with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He also met with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei on Tuesday, according to Iranian state news agency IRNA.

“I am very pleased to be on the hospitable Iranian soil … We can boast of record figures for the growth of trade,” Putin said at a bilateral meeting with Raisi.

“We are strengthening our cooperation on international security issues, making a significant contribution to the settlement of the Syrian conflict.”

Raisi also welcomed the “significant” commitment of the two countries to security cooperation.

“The two countries have good experience in fighting terrorism, which I think has brought security to the region,” he said.

Russia’s relationship with Iran has alerted Western officials as it prepares to step up ground offensives in eastern Ukraine after troops seize it in the Luhansk region.

Recently declassified US intelligence indicates that Iran is expected to supply to Russia with “hundreds” of drones, including combat-ready ones, for use in the war in Ukraine, and Iran is preparing to begin training Russian forces on how to fly them as early as late July, according to White House officials.

“Russia’s appeal to Iran for help speaks volumes to the extent to which both countries are increasingly marginalized by the international community due to their actions in different parts of the world,” John Kirby, National Security Council strategic communications coordinator, told CNN. last week.

The meeting also comes amid stalled talks to revive the Iran nuclear deal, to which the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany are the original signatories.

Robert Malley, the US special envoy for Iran, told CNN on Monday that the likelihood of the 2015 agreement being restored is “decreasing every day.”

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Putin thanked Erdogan for the role of mediator

Among the topics for discussion between Putin and Erdogan was the issue of grain exports from Ukraine. The Ukrainian government has accused Russia of blocking the shipment of more than 20 million tons of grain.

Putin thanked Erdogan for his efforts to mediate between the two countries. “With your mediation, we have moved forward,” he said. “However, not all issues have been resolved. But what happened is good.”

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Erdogan said diplomatic talks between the two countries are ongoing.

“The fact that we can do this is a great advantage,” Erdogan said, adding that in the context of Turkey’s role as a mediator, he is “confident that Russia’s approach remains positive.”

Putin’s visit comes after Erdogan – leader of NATO member Turkey – repeated his threat to block the ascent Sweden and Finland into the alliance after conditionally agreeing to the approval of their application in June.

“I would like to remind you again that we will freeze the process if they do not take the necessary steps to fulfill our conditions,” Erdogan said on Monday after a cabinet meeting.

He voiced his opposition to enlargement at a NATO summit last month in a major diplomatic breakthrough that dealt a blow to Putin.

Khamenei warns Erdogan against military campaign in Syria

On the eve of the summit, Iranian leader Khamenei warned Erdogan against launching a military operation in northern Syria, state news agency IRNA also reported.

“A military attack in northern Syria will hurt Turkey and benefit the terrorists,” Khamenei reportedly told Erdogan in Tehran.

More than 300,000 people have died in the Syrian conflict over a decade, according to the UN.

Earlier, Erdogan threatened to launch a new military offensive designed to push back Syrian Kurdish fighters belonging to the YPG, which Turkey considers a terrorist organization.

“This move will definitely harm Syria, Turkey and the region and will not trigger the expected political action from the Syrians,” Khamenei warned.

“The Syrian issue should be resolved through negotiations, and Iran, Turkey, Syria and Russia will hold discussions on this issue,” he added.

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Raisi also called on foreign forces to leave Syria and blamed the instability on “US occupying forces”.

“We believe that only the Syrian people should decide on their internal affairs without interference from other countries,” he said.

The only possible solution to the Syrian conflict is political, he said, adding that military action would worsen the security situation.

CNN’s Mostafa Salem, Abdul Nasir, Ramin Mostahim, Claire Calzonetti, Emmet Lyons, Zia Dikbas and Adam Purahmadi contributed to this report.

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