Iranian President Raisi and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan on the sidelines of a conference of the littoral states of the Caspian Sea on 29 June 2022. (Photo credit: President.ir)
Russian President Vladimir Putin will travel to Tehran on 19 July to hold a tripartite meeting between his Iranian and Turkish counterparts in a continuation of the Astana talks.
The Astana talks were established in 2017 to reach a political settlement to end the foreign-backed insurgency in Syria.
The Kremlin announced the details of Putin’s upcoming trip, his second foreign visit since the start of the Russian war in Ukraine on 24 February.
His first visit since the military operation was a trip to Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, where he also met with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on the sidelines of a meeting between the littoral states of the Caspian Sea.
Dmitry Peskov, the spokesman of the Kremlin, said that the three leaders who represent the guarantor states of the Astana process will hold a meeting to advance progress on ending hostilities in Syria.
Russia and Iran represent the allies of the Syrian government and its elected president, while Turkey serves as the representative of the opposition, including many western-backed militant groups such as the remnants of the now-defunct Free Syrian Army (FSA), many of whom are Al-Qaeda affiliated.
The special envoy of the Russian president to Syria, Alexander Lavrentyev, recently declared that Moscow will not turn a blind eye to Turkish military incursions into Syria.
The Russian envoy stated that Turkish military operations in Syria would be “an unreasonable step that could lead to destabilization of the situation, escalation of tensions, and a new round of armed confrontation in the country.”
Lavrentyev firmly indicated that Russia would not abandon its allies in the region.
The Turkish military initiated a new military campaign in Syria on 25 May, launching an offensive on several villages in the northwestern countryside of Hasakah governorate and the city of Afrin.
The campaign has targeted Kurdish militias, including the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the operation will resume efforts to establish a 30-kilometer long ‘safe zone’ along Turkey’s southern borders.
Lavrentyev also noted that Syria remains a top priority for Russia, despite the ongoing war in Ukraine.
“Many now … say that, in connection with the special military operation, Russia’s attention to Syria has weakened,” the Russian envoy said. “A number of European countries want to see the development of the situation in Syria according to their designs. I want to say that the Syrian conflict … still remains among the priorities of Russia’s foreign policy.”
In an interview with Russia Today (RT) on 9 June, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad praised the repositioning of the Kremlin on the global scale, saying it had restored a much needed international balance.