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Putin to travel to Tehran for meetings with Iranian, Turkish leaders

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Russian President Vladimir Putin is traveling to Tehran, Tuesday, for meetings with Iranian and Turkish officials, the Kremlin said, after warnings from the United States that Iran could provide Russia with drones for its war against Ukraine.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin will attend a trilateral meeting with leaders from Iran and Turkey — the format of meetings for Syria-related talks.

While in Tehran, Putin is expected to have a separate meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Putin’s visit to Iran comes after the Biden administration said Russian officials have visited Iran’s Kashan Airfield on June 8 and July 15. 

US SAYS RUSSIAN OFFICIALS VISITED IRAN TO VIEW DRONES FOR WAR AGAINST UKRAINE

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the Biden administration had information that indicated the Iranian government was preparing to provide Russia with “up to several hundred UAVs, including weapons-capable UAVs on an expedited timeline.” 

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting on the country's transport industry via a video link in Sochi, Russia May 24, 2022. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting on the country’s transport industry via a video link in Sochi, Russia May 24, 2022. 
(Sputnik/Mikhail Metzel/Kremlin via REUTERS)

UAVs are unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones.

“We assess an official Russian delegation recently received a showcase of Iranian attack-capable UAVs. We are releasing these images captured in June showing Iranian UAVs that the Russian government delegation saw that day,” Sullivan said. “This suggests ongoing Russian interest in acquiring Iranian attack-capable UAVs.”

Sullivan also said the U.S. understands that the visit in June was the first time a Russian delegation “has visited this airfield for such a showcase.”

But Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said in a phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart on Friday that the U.S. accusations about Iranian drones being acquired by Russia for war against Ukraine are “baseless.”

Iranian President Ebrahim Reisi makes a speech during his visit to an exhibition organized by the Atomic Energy Agency of Iran on the occasion of the National Nuclear Technology Day at the International Conference Center in Tehran, Iran on April 9, 2022.

Iranian President Ebrahim Reisi makes a speech during his visit to an exhibition organized by the Atomic Energy Agency of Iran on the occasion of the National Nuclear Technology Day at the International Conference Center in Tehran, Iran on April 9, 2022.
(Iranian Presidency/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

“This sort of claims parallel with Biden’s visit to occupied Palestine, or Israel, are in direction of political intentions and purposes,” Amirabdollahian said, according Iran’s Foreign Ministry’s website. “We oppose any move that could lead to continuation and intensifying conflicts.”

Iran has supplied UAVs to its Middle Eastern allies, and announced Friday its first naval drone-carrying division in the Indian Ocean.

Senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies Behnam Ben Taleblu warned Monday that a growing Russian-Iranian partnership could mean “trouble for Washington.” 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during the High School Students Research Project Final Competition and Award Ceremony at Bestepe Peopleâs Congress and Culture Center in Ankara, Turkiye on June 2, 2022.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during the High School Students Research Project Final Competition and Award Ceremony at Bestepe Peopleâs Congress and Culture Center in Ankara, Turkiye on June 2, 2022.
(Mustafa Kamaci/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

“Be it drone sales or sanctions busting, Washington needs to expose and sanction the connective nodes between Tehran and Moscow,” Taleblu told Fox News. 

WHITE HOUSE ACCUSES IRAN OF GIFTING ‘SEVERAL HUNDRED’ DRONES TO RUSSIA

The U.S. broadened its network of sanctions earlier this month after Tehran attempted to skirt U.S.-sanctioned Iranian petroleum and petrochemical products by selling the banned items to East Asia. 

“Although the leaders are reportedly meeting to discuss Syria under the Astana process, what is likely bringing Khamenei, Putin, and Erdogan together is their shared interest in regime survival and what the other autocrats can do to help with that,” Taleblu said. 

Meanwhile, State Department spokesman Ned Price said Monday that the Biden administration “will continue to watch very closely all of our sanctions remain in force.” 

“Any transaction of this sort would implicate a number of the sanctions that we have on the books and presumably a number of sanctions that countries around the world have on the books,” Price said, regarding the drones. “So this is something that we’ll continue to monitor.” 

Putin’s visit to Iran comes after President Biden visited Israel and Saudi Arabia. Biden, in Saudi Arabia over the weekend, discussed implementing missile and defense capabilities in the Middle East as a counter to Iranian drone and missile attacks.

Neither Saudi Arabia nor Israel have joined international efforts to punish Putin over his unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. 

Fox News’ Ben Evansky, Caitlin McFall and The Associated Press contributed to this report.