The one positive outcome from a face-to-face round of diplomacy helped fructify UN-brokered deal to resume Ukraine’s Black Sea grain export
Russian President Vladimir Putin was seen to be in a happier frame of mind when among friends in the Middle East. Not only may a shopping trip for Iranian drones to bolster his army’s offensive capabilities in Ukraine have proved successful, but he also got a certificate from US and UK intelligence agencies deeming him to be in better health than reports exaggerating his illnesses have been suggesting for a while now.
Mr Putin had to brush off as minor the irritant of being kept waiting at a media conference for a full 50 seconds by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a fellow member of the world’s “strongmen” club. Often enough, Mr Putin has been the one to put on these shows of being the first among equals when in the company of world leaders. But he may have needed the symbolism of his meetings when the Western world has ostracised him and he needs acceptance these days when he is spending more time in the war room at the Kremlin.
There may have been tips to learn on how to survive the complex western sanctions regime led by the US as Mr Putin embraced Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. But three-way talks in Tehran were ostensibly to consider the state of the Syrian war in which Russia, Iran and Turkey have had roles to play for 10 long years without attaining stated objectives.
Not many countries, apart from China, have stated their support for the Russian invasion of Ukraine even if China qualifies its stand by blaming the US also for the war. Khamenei had no such inhibitions even if he did qualify the justification of war in saying Iran is “not at all happy when people are caught up in a war.” Mr Putin may get busier in his war room with goals now expanding beyond Donetsk.
The one positive outcome from a rare face-to-face round of diplomacy may have helped fructify the UN-brokered deal to resume Ukraine’s Black Sea grain exports and in turn facilitate Russian grain and fertiliser shipments. It is hoped that the deal would help bring world grain prices, which shot up because of the Ukraine war, would come down to the relief of the poorest nations.