Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit Tehran on Tuesday for talks with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
It is the Kremlin leader’s first trip outside the former Soviet Union since Moscow’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine.
In Tehran, Putin will also hold his first face-to-face meeting since the invasion with a NATO leader, Turkey’s Tayyip Erdogan, to discuss a deal aimed at allowing the resumption of Ukraine’s Black Sea grain exports as well as peace in Syria.
Putin’s trip, which comes just days after U.S. President Joe Biden visited Israel and Saudi Arabia, sends a strong message to the West about Moscow’s plans to forge closer strategic ties with Iran, China and India in the face of the Western sanctions.
“The contact with Khamenei is very important,” Yuri Ushakov, Putin’s foreign policy adviser said.
“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.”
Putin will also meet Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi who was elected last year.
Putin, who turns 70 this year, has made few foreign trips in recent years due to the COVID pandemic and then the Ukraine crisis.
His last trip beyond the former Soviet Union was to China in February.
His bilateral talks with Erdogan will focus on a plan to get Ukrainian grain exports moving again.
“The talks will try to solve the issues on grain exports,” said a senior Turkish official said.
Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the United Nations are expected to sign a deal later this week aimed at resuming the shipping of grain from Ukraine across the Black Sea.