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Russia flew $141m, western weapons to Iran in return for UAVs

November 9, 2022 at 4:26 pm

The B model of Bayraktar AKINCI UAV-A on March 02, 2022 [Baykar/Anadolu Agency]

Russia secretly provided western weapons seized in Ukraine and hundreds of millions of dollars to Iran in return for over 160 Iranian drones, a report has revealed as Kyiv and its allies continue to criticise Tehran over its assistance to Moscow’s invasion.

According to Sky News, which quoted an anonymous security source, two Russian military cargo planes landed at Tehran airport on 20 August, carrying a US Javelin anti-tank missile, a Stinger anti-aircraft missile and a British NLAW anti-tank missile, as well as $141 million (£123.4 million) in cash.

The source, who shared satellite imagery showing the two Russian military cargo planes parked for around three and a half hours at the airport, claimed that Iran received 100 Shahed-136 drones, 60 smaller Shahed-131 drones and six Mohajer-6 drones, in return.

The missiles were reportedly intended for Ukraine and its armed forces, but “fell into Russian hands” and “will probably be reverse-engineered and used in future wars” by the Iranians and their allies, the source said.

READ: Iran condemns call for UN probe into alleged use of its drones in Ukraine

They also added that Tehran and Moscow recently agreed to another drone deal worth $200 million (£175 million), meaning that “there will be another big supply of UAVs from Iran soon”. Since the deal on 20 August, according to the source, at least five Russian aircraft have picked up transported the UAVs from Iran.

Iran’s role in assisting the Russian invasion of Ukraine through drone supplies came to light a few months into the war, after the US claimed that Tehran was planning to supply Moscow and its forces with the hardware, with the Ukrainian government later accusing Moscow of using around 400 Iranian UAVs to strike Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure.

Iran initially denied the reports while at the same time subtly acknowledging its role, before fully admitting that it supplied Russia with drones but “months” before the invasion was launched in February.