Even as Tehran disputes the claims that it has supplied attack drones to Russia for the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine, there were reports on Tuesday that Iran is now preparing to send approximately 1,000 weapons – including surface-to-surface ballistic missiles and additional drones – to aid the Russian war effort.
According to CNN, this would be the first time that the Islamic Republic has sent advanced precision-guided missiles to Russia, and it could provide the Kremlin with a much-needed boost on the battlefield. Russia’s forces have been pushed back as Ukraine launched its twin offensives in the late summer, and has made much progress. As of this past weekend, Ukraine has claimed to have liberated 6,000 square kilometers (2,317 square miles).
Iran Supporting Russia
Even as Russia has remained the second largest exporter of military hardware after the United States, its losses in Ukraine have been so staggering that it has been forced to import a significant amount of ordnance, including artillery shells from North Korea, and reportedly a large number of drones from Iran.
Ukrainian officials have claimed that in the previous shipment from Iran to Russia, there were about 450 drones, which were deployed to deadly effect in Ukraine. Yet, Kyiv has also said that it had successfully shot down more than 300 Iranian Shahed-136 “kamikaze” drones.
Even though Ukraine has seen success against unmanned aerial systems (UAS), the missiles could present a far greater challenge. It is believed that Moscow is turning to the Islamic Republic and acquiring an Iranian-made version of the Russian-designed Iskander ballistic missile (NATO reporting name SS-26 “Stone”).
“It is theoretically possible to shoot them down but very difficult with the means we have at our disposal,” Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yurii Ihnat told reporters on Tuesday. “We have air defense, not missile defense.”
Ihnat warned that it is believed that the missiles could be placed on the northern border with Ukraine to fire at targets throughout the besieged country. This would also present challenges for Kyiv to strike the batteries even if they were located on the ground.
Russia’s Terror Weapons
The missiles and drones have been used against Ukraine’s cities and civilian infrastructure, and this campaign has seen far greater success than what the Kremlin has seen in the frontline fighting on the ground. Even as the Ukrainian military has been seeing increasing success in shooting down drones, the damage to the Ukrainian power grid has been enormous.
Upwards of eighty percent of the country was without power earlier this week – and Kyiv has been pleading with Western governments to help provide the components that could restore the grid.
The new expected shipment of Iranian arms could mark a significant increase in Tehran’s support of Russia’s war effort – and even bring the Iran-Russian alliance, which has long existed in the shadows, into the open. It could further permanently shift Iran’s global role, as the country could become an arms exporter in the process.
It is unclear, however, exactly when the latest shipment of Iranian military hardware will arrive in Russia, but officials in Kyiv believe it will be delivered before the end of the year.
There is a grave concern that missiles and drones could cause massive civilian casualties, especially as winter is now just weeks away. It appears that Moscow will continue to try to hurt Ukraine’s people as the Russian military continues to face setbacks on the battlefield. Terror weapons are all that the Kremlin may have left.
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,000 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.
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