Russia has ordered hundreds of new Iranian drones and ballistic missiles in response to an acute shortage of military supplies, according to a diplomatic source at the United Nations. News of the shipment follows several drone attacks on military bases deep in Russian territory that are widely believed to have been carried out by Ukraine.
“We know that Iran is planning to increase its deliveries of unmanned aerial vehicles and missiles to Russia in significant quantities,” the source said on condition of anonymity
Russia has already used hundreds of Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones. Moscow has denied the use of the so-called kamikaze drones, while Iran admitted in November that it had supplied drones to Russia.
EU countries subsequently imposed additional sanctions on Iran, which was already subject to a range of punitive measures.
A UN Security Council resolution passed after the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran bans Iran from such arms deals. The US, Britain, France and Germany in October called for a UN investigation into the Iranian weapons’ attacks in Ukraine.
In November, the Washington Post reported that Moscow and Tehran had struck a deal to build hundreds of attack drones in Russia.
Citing intelligence seen by the United States and other Western security agencies, the report said that the deal’s details were finalized in recent weeks. In a matter of months, it said, production may begin, which would significantly boost Moscow’s stockpile of attack drones – a vital component in its bombardment of Ukraine.
The report quoted one official familiar with the agreement as saying that the effort to produce these drones in Russia “is moving fast and it has a lot of steam.” Since August, over 400 such Iranian-produced drones have been used by Moscow in attacks on Ukraine, including on vital civilian infrastructure.
The deal to locally produce Iranian-designed drones would be a boon to both countries; Moscow is low on munitions as the war stretches on, and Iran would reap the economic and political benefits. The sources added that, aside from the clear monetary benefits and ties to a world power, it is unknown exactly what Iran is seeking in exchange. Possibilities include assistance with the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.
Earlier in November, CNN reported that Iran requested help from Russia in obtaining additional nuclear materials and with nuclear fuel fabrication. The fuel may be intended to help Iran power its nuclear reactors and could potentially cut down on the time it takes Tehran to develop a nuclear weapon.