At a meeting with Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Russian President Vladimir Putin called for more unity in Syria policy and accused the West of interfering.
The West is “on course to dismember the country,” Putin said at the televised meeting in Tehran on Tuesday. He demanded that Russia, Turkey and Iran, to whom Putin conceded a key role in shaping the future of Syria, must jointly oppose this.
“The situation in the areas that are not under the authority of the Syrian authorities is particularly worrying,” Putin said. There is an increased risk of extremism and separatism from these territories. “In many ways, the destructive line of the western states led by the United States encourages this,” the Kremlin chief lamented.
Ankara, Moscow and Tehran should therefore do everything possible to allow these areas to return to the rule of the “legitimate government”. The demand should also be understood against Turkish attempts to gain more influence in northern Syria.
Meanwhile, Erdogan called for support in the fight against terrorism. “Our fight against terrorist organizations will always continue, regardless of where or by whom it is supported,” said the Turkish leader.
He called on his counterparts Putin and Raisi to support the Turkish military operation in Syria. “We expect Russia and Iran to support us in the fight against terrorism,” Erdogan said.
The Turkish head of state referred to an agreement with Russia and the USA from 2019, according to which both countries should help to push Kurdish fighters out of the Syrian-Turkish border area. “It still hasn’t happened,” Erdogan said. “It’s long overdue.”
Raisi, on the other hand, struck a similar tone as Putin. “Iran believes that the only solution to the Syrian crisis is political and that military action is not only ineffective but will aggravate the situation,” Raisi said in a closing speech attended by Putin and Erdogan.
Even if the Syria talks were the focus of the meeting, regional cooperation and the Russian war of aggression in its neighboring country Ukraine were likely to have been topics. The Ukraine war was no longer discussed publicly on Tuesday.
Clearly in a good mood, Russia’s President Putin arrived in Tehran. It was his second known trip abroad since the attack on Ukraine began. While Putin recently received top politicians at long tables in Moscow, there was little distance seen in Iran at meetings with the supreme religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei or President Raisi.
The meeting came shortly after a trip to the region by US President Joe Biden. Biden returned from Saudi Arabia – Iran’s regional rival – just over the weekend.
In the past, the three states had already negotiated the future of Syria in the Astana format. The next Syria meeting in this format is to take place in Russia. The conflict in Syria began in March 2011 with peaceful protests against which the government used violence. From this the civil war developed.
With the help of their allies Russia and Iran, supporters of President Bashar al-Assad are once again in control of a large part of the country. The rest is under the control of Turkish troops, rebels or Kurds.
Russia itself has been waging a war of aggression against neighboring Ukraine since February and is supporting eastern Ukrainian separatists who have declared their independence. At a meeting with Erdogan, Putin expressed his gratitude for Ankara’s mediation on the issue of grain deliveries.