Iranian-made drones have previously been used in Ukraine. This time the attacks were in the town of Makariv, west of Kiev. Important infrastructure facilities were hit. It is all the result of the cooperation with Iran, says Middle East correspondent Olaf Koens. “From day three of the war, the possibility that the country would supply weapons to the Russians was already being considered.”
Like Russia, Iran is also fighting a battle with the West, he explains. “If you have a common enemy, then on paper you are each other’s friend. And Iran is always looking for money because of all the sanctions imposed on them. And the Russians can give them that.”
But what about relations between Russia and Iran? They certainly do not have a particularly close relationship, explains Iran expert Paul Aarts from the University of Amsterdam. Because Iran is a country that is always very isolated. “The feeling is: we want to be sovereign. Iran and Russia have had a difficult and rather ambiguous relationship for a long time.”
It has to do with events in the past where trust between Iran and other countries has often been damaged. For example, both the Russians and the British occupied parts of Iran at the beginning of the last century and during World War II. They also killed the constitutional revolution of the early 20th century. “People haven’t forgotten that in Iran,” says Aarts.
Highly developed country
There is no doubt that Iran has drones at its disposal. The country has been under pressure for years due to international sanctions imposed to discourage the development of nuclear weapons. “Sanctions have been in place since 1979, but most severe sanctions have been imposed since 2012. Sanctions were added four years ago under President Trump, but Biden continues to do so.”
Iran is trying to be as little dependent as possible on others through all the setbacks. They have therefore – out of necessity – set up their own arms industry. “They have gained a leading position in some areas. People sometimes forget, but Iran is a highly developed country with highly developed technology,” says Aarts.
Sanctions hit some harder than others. “Initially, it is ordinary Iranians who pay the price. Some sectors run like a charm. But the production of missiles and drones is high, qualitatively and quantitatively.”
Correspondent Olaf Koens also says that in Israel there is fear of Iranian drones. “At first it was thought that those drones weren’t good enough, that Iran was just messing around. But now it turns out that they work pretty well. It’s not like they can carry huge bombs, but they can. touch know what.”
marriage of convenience
In early July, US intelligence agencies reported that Iran would supply Russia with hundreds of armed drones. According to the US, the Iranian military would also train the Russians on how to use the drones. Iran denied it.
But now these drones are being used in Ukraine, as it turned out earlier from videos shared by the Ukrainian military. “It goes much further than I thought possible,” says Iran expert Aarts. “But it’s a more common element of Iran’s foreign policy that they sometimes enter into a marriage of convenience with another country for pragmatic reasons. And then turn a blind eye if it’s in Iran’s interest.”
Aarts wonders why it is necessary for Iran to do this. “Putin has undoubtedly exerted pressure and money always plays a role. Iran has been burdened with sanctions for years. The country is not bankrupt, but it is in serious trouble. support when Iran needs it, for example in the UN Security Council . Or in the economic field.”
“But it is difficult to understand what exactly is going on in the minds of Iranian leaders,” says Aarts. “And then what is the final consideration in supplying this killing device, for what it is, to Russia.”
Who are Russia’s friends?
Putin does not have many allies in the world. Yesterday, the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly condemned Russia’s “attempted illegal annexation” of four territories in Ukraine. These areas are therefore not recognized as Russian.
143 of the 193 countries voted in favor of the resolution, which confirms Ukraine’s sovereignty. There were five votes against: Russia, Belarus, North Korea, Nicaragua and Syria. 35 countries, including India and China, said they would abstain. A total of ten countries, including Iran, were not present to vote.
Last month there was a summit in Uzbekistan, where Russia and Iran, according to the news agency Reuters, have tightened ties. Iran’s president, Ebrahim Raisi, said countries hit by sanctions seeking out each other “only makes them stronger.” “The Americans think they can stop countries with sanctions, but they are wrong,” he said.
The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, sees the rapprochement as ‘a positive development’. The two countries would work on a new strategic treaty to further develop cooperation, including in the economic area.