A Russian delegation sent by President Vladimir Putin visited an airfield in central Iran two times in June to examine military-grade drones, according to White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.
Satellite imagery from news outlets showed Iran displaying its Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) or its Shahed-191 and Shahed-129 drones to Russian officials at Kashan Airfield in Tehran. This latest development comes as the Russian military experiences massive casualties in its invasion of Ukraine, facing international pressure and sanctions.
According to officials, American intelligence agencies have information that the Iranian government is preparing to provide Russia with several hundred UAVs capable of carrying precision-guided missiles to attack Ukrainian fighters and buildings. The reports and images from American satellites revealed that the Russian delegation received several showcases of Iranian attack-capable UAVs. Sullivan stated that to the United States’ knowledge, last month’s visit was the first time Russian officials visited the airfield for such an event.
Sullivan, along with other national security advisors, believes that Russia is betting on Iran in the Middle East to help them supply their forces with military resources against Ukraine. As President Biden concluded his trip to the Middle East by meeting with the Arab leaders to discuss issues related to Iran and its terrorist aggression, the President stressed the need to promote regional defense integration against the regime’s drone program.
The relationship between Iran and Russia has constantly grown since Vladimir Putin took office in 2000. Before that, Russia, formerly known as the Soviet Union, and the Islamic Republic of Iran under then-Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini maintained a stringent relationship, given the USSR’s communistic governance and Iran’s hardline Islamic governance were at odds. Under Putin’s regime, the Islamic Republic of Iran under Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has created mutual ties with Moscow, opening new economic and military resources between the two nations.
Russia has supplied Iran with numerous military equipment such as missiles, guns, military satellites, and other resources for the Islamic Republic’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and its terrorist proxies in Lebanon, Gaza, and Yemen. In 2015, when Iran and the West engaged in negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, Russia also aided in negotiations, helping Iran receive enormous economic concessions from the West. Russia and Iran have stood united in their efforts to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his regime after Syrian citizens took to the streets to protest his rule in 2011.
When Putin decided to invade Ukraine in late February, the Russian president faced international condemnation from all nations, except for China, Iran, North Korea, Syria, and other anti-Western regimes. Leaders from these nations repeated Putin’s explanation that parts of Ukraine belong to Russia and viewed the Western sanctions against Russia as disastrous. Leaders from these nations have helped Russia avoid international sanctions, supplying the country with economic and military resources to maintain its economy and attacks in Ukraine.
With the Islamic Republic being the closest neighbor to Iran, the mullahs have put all their weight and effort into helping Russia succeed in its invasion of Ukraine, hoping to better their position with the former Soviet Empire. Additionally, as the West and Iran are engaged in ongoing negotiations over reviving the 2015 nuclear deal, revoked under the Trump administration, Iranian officials are hoping to gain help from Russia in securing more concessions in exchange for supporting its invasion of Ukraine.