Strong improvement in relations between Russia and Iran

With Iran emerging as one of Russia’s most important partner countries, the significance of President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Tehran on July 19 cannot be overstated.

When Jake Sullivan, the US national security adviser, first mentioned a possible drone deal between Iran and Russia, Moscow remained silent while Tehran pro-forma refuted the report. All in all, this gave the impression that a trade was indeed in the pipeline. Sullivan made his revelation at the end of a White House briefing on President Biden’s upcoming tour of West Asia, which included visits to Israel and Saudi Arabia. It seemed that he played effectively with his statement with the intention of stirring up the latent anti-Iranian sentiments in the Gulf region and thereby giving the POTUS’s prestige project of creating an Israeli-Israeli in the region some more topicality. the Arab military front.

The West Asian countries continue to resist the directorial role that Washington wants to usurp in the region.

If Sullivan spoke out to stir things up, his plan has failed. The West Asian countries continue to resist the directorial role that Washington wants to usurp in the region. After Biden’s visit, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, told CNN, among other things, that negotiations are underway between Iran and the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) with a view to improving relations. He went on to say that the focus should be on engagement and on changing Iran’s behavior.

But Sullivan has repeated his accusation, adding that an official Russian delegation “recently received a number of demonstrators of Iranian UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) that can be equipped with offensive weapons.” The last time it happened was July 5th.

CNN quoted White House officials as saying Iran is expected to deliver hundreds of drones to Russia. They will then be used in the war in Ukraine. Iran also plans to provide training to Russian military personnel in the use of the drones. That training program was supposed to start at the end of July.

Wide selection of drones

It is known that Iran has a wide range of drones. According to CNN’s report, Iran is currently introducing two models to the Russians: the Shahed-191 and the Shahed-129 ‘killer’ drone. According to published documentation, the Shahed-129 has a wingspan of 15.24 meters, a cruising speed of approximately 160 km/h, a maximum flight time of 24 hours, a range of 1700 km and a maximum flight altitude of 7.3 km. The Shahed-129 can be equipped with up to eight Sadid-345 precision-guided mini-bombs that can hit moving targets. The limited size of the bombs, which have a range of 6 km, limits collateral damage and would allow the Shahed to deliver multiple lethal hits or attacks per attack. mission.

Iranian Shahed-129 drone. Photo Defense express/ open source

The Shahed 191 is equipped with two Sadid-1 missiles and has a cruising speed of 300 km/h, a maximum flight time of 4.5 hours, a range of 450 km and a payload of 50 kg. Her maximum flight height is 7.6 km. The Shahed 191 was used in fighting in Syria, according to Iran’s Fars News Agency.

Both types are stealth drones. These are harder to detect for anti-aircraft artillery. When performing operations, their actions can be coordinated. Russia is said to have too few armed drones for long-range missions. These could e.g. used to track and disable the US-supplied HIMARS mobile missile guns currently deployed in Ukraine and to neutralize Ukrainian anti-aircraft artillery. Drones are relatively cheap and easy to replace. This does not apply to manned aircraft.

Iran sticks its neck out

If the drone deal goes through – and it looks like it will – it will mean a massive improvement in relations between Russia and Iran. Because then Iran will do something for Russia that only China could do. But that country is cautious about taking that step for fear of reprisals from the United States. This makes Iran a very special partner country for Russia. Ironically, Russia has yet to upgrade its relationship with Iran to “strategic” status.

After all, Russia will deploy its weapons systems in the European theater.

For its part, by defying the West’s rules-based order, Iran is literally sticking its neck out. After all, Russia will deploy its weapons systems in the European theater against anti-aircraft artillery supplied to Ukraine by the US and NATO countries. It is almost unheard of for a budding mid-level mogul on the global political stage to provide such crucial assistance to a superpower while a high-tech war rages on the front lines. This naturally increases Iran’s regional and international prestige.

On a geopolitical level, however, this decision will have far-reaching consequences. There is no doubt that it will be the death knell for the nuclear negotiations that took place over the past year between the United States and Iran through European mediators in Vienna.

Saudi Arabia in BRICS

It is hardly surprising that Tehran has already come to the conclusion that President Joe Biden is just playing a comedy act and that he is in fact just continuing his predecessor’s Iran policy. For Iran, it is clear that the US has rebranded itself to its decades-old (and failed) strategy of promoting an Israeli-Arab front against Tehran. Tehran is now clearly moving towards a new trajectory based on continued US hostility.

As a result, Tehran will intensify its efforts to improve its relations with its Arab neighbors and explore all possible avenues in that direction. In doing so, it will seize the opportunity presented by the new Saudi Arabian vision to become less dependent on the United States and to widely explore the possibilities of its strategic autonomy and independent foreign policy.

It can be argued that Tehran benefits from the deepening relations between Saudi Arabia and Russia on the one hand and Saudi Arabia and China on the other. It’s also fair to say that Saudi Arabia’s pursuit of BRICS membership comes pretty close to Iran’s worldview. It emphasizes a democratized, multipolar world order, where each country can freely choose the path it takes in its development and which political system it wants to join.

It can be argued that Tehran benefits from the deepening relations between Saudi Arabia and Russia on the one hand and Saudi Arabia and China on the other.

One thing is certain: Against this historical backdrop of a transforming West Asian region, the significance of President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Tehran on Tuesday cannot be overstated. Iran is on its way to becoming one of Russia’s most important partner countries.

What started as a modest alliance in Syria in the fight against terrorism has only grown in importance over the past seven years and now assumes global dimensions. Knowing that his mission to Moscow in July 2015 had been successful against all odds would have given the late Qassem Soleimani immense pleasure.

K. Bhadrakumar is a former career diplomat. He writes mainly on Indian foreign policy and on topics related to the Middle East, Eurasia, Central Asia, South Asia and the Asia-Pacific region.

This text appeared on Scheerpost.

Photo: Presidential Office of Russia, Creative Commons Attribution 4.0

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