Syrian President Bashar al-Assad flew to Russia on Tuesday, where he will be meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin for the first time in two years.
The Assad-Putin meeting will take place in Moscow on Wednesday, Russia’s official news agency, Tass, reported. The talks will focus on political, trade and humanitarian cooperation, as well as the situation in Syria, according to Reuters.
من مراسم الاستقبال الرسمية للرئيس الأسد لدى وصوله مطار ڤنوكوڤا الدولي مبتدئاً زيارة رسمية إلى روسيا الاتحادية. pic.twitter.com/QwSd02QRZH— Syrian Presidency (@Presidency_Sy) March 14, 2023
Assad and Putin last met in 2021 — also in Moscow. Assad also visited Russia in 2015, 2017 and 2018. Putin visited Assad in Syria in 2017 and 2020, per Tass.
Why it matters: Russia is hosting Syrian and Turkish diplomats on Wednesday as part of its efforts to further thaw relations between the two countries. Turkey backs various rebel groups in Syria fighting Assad’s government, and relations were severed in 2012.
However, Turkey has begun to recalibrate its position now that Assad has retaken most of the country with Russia’s help. In December, the Turkish and Syrian defense chiefs held a meeting in Russia. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also said that month that he would like to meet with Assad.
Wednesday’s meeting between the Turkish and Syrian diplomats in Moscow was announced earlier, but Assad’s visit was not.
Know more: Al-Monitor's Beatrice Farhat wrote on Tuesday that the Palestinian armed group Hamas sent a leadership delegation "recently" on a trip to Russia and met Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov.
Putin also held a call with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi last week. The two discussed food security as well as energy and industrial cooperation, according to a statement from the Kremlin.