Explainer-Iran and Russia’s growing drone alliance amid Western outcry According to Reuters

© Reuters. Russian President Vladimir Putin meets Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan September 15, 2022. Sputnik / Alexandr Demyanchuk / Pool via REUTERS

By Michael Georgy

Iranian officials say Iran has promised to supply Russia with surface-to-surface missiles, along with more drones.

This weapon could give a significant boost to Russia’s failed efforts in the war against Ukraine but Iran’s clerical rulers face growing international pressure over the alliance. their military with Moscow.


Iran has developed a large domestic arms industry that faces international sanctions and embargoes that have banned it from importing weapons, including drones and missiles that it considers to be An important form of protection from arch-enemies is Israel and the United States, where troops are stationed. at bases in the region.

Although Western military analysts say Iran sometimes exaggerates its capabilities, drones are a key element in Tehran’s border surveillance, especially in the Gulf waters. around the Strait of Hormuz, through which one-fifth of the world’s oil supplies flow.

In recent years, Iran and the regional forces it backs have become increasingly reliant on drones in Yemen, Syria and Iraq, where they have spread their influence through proxies. Saudi Arabia and the US say they believe Iran was behind a drone and missile attack on Saudi Arabia’s prized oil facilities in 2019, which Tehran denied.

The Islamic Republic says its drone is the most powerful in the region. In addition to surveillance, they can be used for attacks, either by dropping ammunition or so-called “kamikaze drones” that fly at the target and blow themselves up. Its advanced long-range suicide drone is designed to strike Israel’s Tel Aviv.

Iran says its ballistic missiles, with ranges of up to 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles), are an important deterrent and retaliatory force against the United States, Israel and other potential targets in the region. It denies seeking nuclear weapons.

The program includes about 1,000 short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, one of the largest deployed in the Middle East.

The Arms Control Association said Iran’s short- and medium-range ballistic missiles include the Shahab-1, with an estimated range of 300 km, the Zolfaghar (700 km); Shahab-3 (800-1,000 km), Emad-1, a missile in development (up to 2,000 km) and Sejiil, in development (1,500-2,500 km).

Iran also has cruise missiles such as the Kh-55, an air-launched nuclear weapon (up to 3,000 km) and the Khalid Farzh advanced anti-ship missile, capable of carrying a 1,000 kg warhead.

The US is concerned that the long-range ballistic missile technology used to put satellites into orbit could also be used to launch nuclear warheads. Tehran denies such plans.


With US forces stationed in the region and Israel’s military superiority, Iran has ramped up its efforts to build missiles, drones and provide proxies despite the imposition of orders. US sanctions have devastated the country’s economy.

Iran’s air force is weak. Most of its jets are decades old and difficult to maintain. Producing drones and missiles is seen as a cheaper way for the Iranian military to defend the country.

Iranian hardware in Syria and Yemen has improved over the past decade. Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen have significantly increased their drone attacks, bombing airports and oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, a major rival of Iran.


The Islamic Republic’s sectarian leaders want to strengthen strategic ties with Russia against an emerging, US-backed Gulf Arab-Israeli bloc that could shift the balance of power in the Middle East further away from Iran. .

Driven by high oil prices since the Ukraine war, Iran is betting that with Russia’s support, Iran can pressure Washington to make concessions to restore the 2015 nuclear deal with major powers. In the world.

Forging a real alliance with a superpower that shares anti-Western views and isn’t afraid to promote those views on the battlefield is a strategic move designed to show Iran is not isolated.


Russia launched dozens of “kamikaze” drones into Ukraine on Monday, attacking energy infrastructure and killing five people in the capital Kyiv. The Ukrainians have nicknamed them “motorcycles” because of the humming noise their engines make when they fly overhead.

Ukraine says they are Iranian-made Shahed-136 attack drones that stalk projectiles towards their targets before plunging at speed and exploding on impact. Kyiv severed ties with Iran because of their use on Tuesday.


Western powers are expected to impose more sanctions on Iran. European Union governments have temporarily agreed to impose sanctions on eight people and entities for using Iranian-made drones in Russian attacks on Ukraine, three EU diplomat said.

The Islamic Republic has learned to survive decades of sanctions and tight control over its supply chain.


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