In his first journey overseas since Russia invaded Ukraine, President Vladimir V. Putin, having just lately in contrast himself to Peter the Great, held court docket amongst his shut allies in Central Asia and insisted that the conflict was going in accordance to plan.
His second journey, introduced by the Kremlin on Tuesday, will take him into far harder diplomatic terrain: conferences subsequent week in Tehran with the leaders of Iran and Turkey, two nations generally aligned and generally sharply at odds with Russia and with one another.
The conferences, in the event that they go properly for Mr. Putin, symbolize a chance to shore up army and financial backing to counter the West’s army help to Ukraine and its sanctions in opposition to Russia.
While excessive gas costs have buoyed Russia’s revenues and it has been emboldened by gradual army positive factors in Ukraine, Western sanctions have wounded its financial system and restricted its capacity to construct or purchase know-how for army use.
According to the White House, Russia is seeking hundreds of drones from Iran, together with these succesful of firing missiles, and analysts say that Iran may supply Russia a essential commerce route and experience in circumventing sanctions and exporting oil.
Russia’s army has seized management of a lot of the japanese Donbas area of Ukraine, at a fearful value in destruction and casualties on each side. It has put the advance briefly on maintain whereas making an attempt to regroup battered models, however continues to pound Ukrainian targets with shells, rockets and missiles.
Next week in Tehran, the Iranian capital, Mr. Putin will meet collectively and individually with President Ebrahim Raisi of Iran and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, the Kremlin spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, informed reporters on Tuesday. Mr. Peskov mentioned the leaders would focus on peace talks on Syria, a decade-old battle through which Iran and Russia have backed the federal government and Turkey has supported an opposing insurgent faction.
Syria is only one sticking level between Iran and Turkey, every of which may assist Mr. Putin circumvent Western measures or drive wedges between the international locations that united to help Ukraine. Mr. Putin’s diplomatic push will even search to counter efforts this week by President Biden, as he travels to the Middle East to meet the leaders of Saudi Arabia and different Gulf States.
Better Understand the Russia-Ukraine War
Mr. Erdogan has for years proved a prickly ally for NATO, generally working in tandem with different member states however usually pursuing his personal agenda even when it disrupts Western consensus. He has grown closer to Mr. Putin in recent times, and briefly objected to Sweden and Finland joining NATO over the hunt for autonomy by ethnic Kurds in Turkey and neighboring international locations.
But Turkey, which shares the Black Sea coast with each Russia and Ukraine, has emerged as presumably essentially the most lively mediator between Mr. Putin and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine. Early within the conflict, Mr. Erdogan hosted conferences between delegations from every nation, and since these negotiations stalled he has pursued talks about lifting a Russian blockade to get Ukraine’s grain exports into international markets, the place they could alleviate a food crisis.
Iran and Russia have lengthy had cordial relations, usually sharing a typical curiosity in confronting the West. At the identical time, Moscow tried to keep relationships with Iran’s regional enemies, Israel and some Arab international locations.
But that stability shifted this yr, because the stress of Western sanctions in opposition to Russia, and tensions related to the war and oil, seem to have made ties with Tehran a better precedence for Moscow and the 2 have drawn nearer.
Mr. Putin met with Iran’s president, Mr. Raisi, on the sidelines of a regional summit in Turkmenistan final month, and spoke with him on the cellphone in early June, in accordance to the Kremlin.
“Our relationship is of a truly deep, strategic character,” Mr. Putin informed Mr. Raisi in Turkmenistan, noting that commerce between the 2 international locations was up 81 p.c final yr.
At a summit assembly in Uzbekistan in September, Iran is anticipated to be a part of a multilateral safety group, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which already consists of Russia and China.
Sergey V. Lavrov, the Russian international minister, final month praised Iran’s accession as a step that might strengthen the group “as one of the key centers of the emerging multipolar world order,” diluting the worldwide affect of the United States.
But regardless of their frequent trigger, relations between Russia and Iran could possibly be strained by easy competitors for the oil gross sales that dominate each nations’ economies.
Iran and Venezuela, a longtime Kremlin ally, have lengthy operated underneath harsh Western sanctions, forcing them to rely closely on oil gross sales to Asia, notably China. Now sanctions are driving Russia towards the identical markets, combating for gross sales to Asia. Analysts say the competitors has already pressured Iran and Venezuela to sharply low cost their crude to maintain on to patrons.
The Kremlin might even see talks in Tehran as an opportunity to easy over relations, particularly if it desires assist evading the type of sanctions Iran has confronted for years. Iranian officers have overtly known as themselves specialists in navigating financial sanctions imposed by the United States, and may share their methods with Russia.
“Iranians have plenty of experience and channels they have used to circumvent sanctions, and they can provide corridors for Russian goods to travel through Iran to other places,” mentioned Ali Vaez, the Iran undertaking director on the International Crisis Group. “This is all beneficial to Russia.”
Western officers say it’s not clear to what extent Iran helps Russia’s army marketing campaign, however Mr. Putin may additionally are available search of specialised know-how to assist his armed forces. Although Russia maintains an awesome benefit in artillery and ammunition — utilizing it to devastating impact on army and civilian targets alike — it has struggled with reconnaissance that might allow extra exact strikes.
Spy and fight drones may assist make up that shortfall. Advanced drones supplied by Turkey had been essential to Azerbaijan’s victory over Armenia of their 2020 conflict.
Ukrainian officers say that superior rocket launchers, known as HIMARS and provided by the United States, have allowed Ukraine to hit Russian munitions depots and command posts far past the entrance strains with nice precision.
On Monday evening, for occasion, Ukrainian forces combating to recapture territory mentioned they blew up a Russian ammunition depot within the southern Kherson area. Officials loyal to Moscow mentioned one of the HIMARS carried out the strike and that it hit a warehouse containing saltpeter, inflicting a big explosion. Neither declare could possibly be verified Tuesday.
Mr. Biden’s nationwide safety adviser, Jake Sullivan, mentioned U.S. officers didn’t know whether or not Iran had already despatched any drones to Russia. Mr. Sullivan mentioned that Russia’s monthslong bombardment had exhausted its provide of precision-guided weapons, and appeared to recommend that the Kremlin was, or quickly can be, working brief on armed surveillance drones, or unmanned aerial autos.
“Our information indicates that the Iranian government is preparing to provide Russia with up to several hundred U.A.V.s, including weapons-capable U.A.V.s, on an expedited timeline,” Mr. Sullivan informed reporters on the White House.
He added that the United States had info that indicated that Iran was preparing to train Russian troops to use the drones as quickly as this month.
Responding to these remarks, Nasser Kanani, a spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, mentioned on Tuesday that cooperation between Iran and Russia “in the area of new technology dates back to before the Ukraine war.” He added, “There has been no particular development at this current time.”
Alan Yuhas, Eric Schmitt, Euan Ward, Farnaz Fassihi, Anatoly Kurmanaev, Dan Bilefsky and Ivan Nechepurenko contributed reporting.