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Has Iranian military assistance to Russia’s conflict in Ukraine reached a new level?

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The recent crash of a heavy drone in a field in western Russia has revealed the extent of Iranian arms support for Russia. The drone was identified as an Iranian-made Mohajer-6 drone carrying high-precision aerial bombs intended for use in northern Ukraine. These bombs, along with other weapons, are supplied to Moscow by Tehran in exchange for advanced Russian weaponry and international support. The use of these drones has had devastating effects in Ukraine, causing widespread destruction and casualties.

Ukrainians have been forced to adapt quickly to combat the threat posed by these drones, giving them the derogatory nickname “mopeds” due to their slow speed. Despite efforts to shoot down the drones, Russia has continued to produce and deploy them in large numbers, overwhelming Western-supplied air defense systems. The drones have forced Ukraine to spend expensive missiles to defend against them, leaving them vulnerable to more destructive Russian cruise missiles.

Russia’s use of Iranian drones has mainly been for surveillance and targeting purposes, while heavier gliding bombs are used to destroy fortified defense installations in Ukraine. The use of these Iranian bombs may be limited to targeting tanks, as they are not as effective against more heavily fortified targets. The quality of Iranian-supplied ammunition has also been called into question, with reports of inadequate quality from Russian military sources and intercepted Iranian-made ammunition intended for other conflicts.

Tehran’s support for Moscow includes not only drones and bombs but also surface-to-surface missiles with a range of up to 700km. This support has raised concerns among countries like Israel, which have long opposed the sale of advanced air defense systems to Iran. Iran, in turn, hopes to receive more advanced Russian fighter jets and air defense systems to counter potential threats from Israel or the US.

Iran’s role in supporting the Russia-China alliance and trade routes across Eurasia has positioned it as a key player in the region. The country’s role in connecting the new north-south route and the Great Silk Road from China has solidified its importance in the region. Despite concerns over the quality of Iranian weapons and ammunition, Tehran’s strategic alliances with countries like Russia and China continue to shape the geopolitical landscape in the region.

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