Russia wants 'hundreds' of ballistic missiles from Iran and is offering 'unprecedented' military support in return, UK envoy says




  • In Politics
  • 2022-12-09 18:31:26Z
  • By Business Insider
A Ukrainian serviceman looks at a Russian ballistic missile
A Ukrainian serviceman looks at a Russian ballistic missile's booster stage that fell in a field in Bohodarove, eastern Ukraine, on April 25, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.  
  • Russia wants more weapons from Iran, including "hundreds" of ballistic missiles.

  • A top UK envoy said Friday that Russia is offering Iran "unprecedented" military support in return.

  • For months, Russian forces have used Iranian-made suicide drones to terrorize Ukrainians.

Russia is looking to secure a massive supply of ballistic missiles from Iran, and in return, it is offering the country "unprecedented" military support, a top UK envoy said on Friday.

"Russia is now attempting to obtain more weapons, including hundreds of ballistic missiles. In return, Russia is offering Iran an unprecedented level of military and technical support," Barbara Woodward, the UK's permanent representative to the United Nations, told reporters after a Security Council meeting.

She said the international governing body is "concerned that Russia intends to provide Iran with more advanced military components, which would allow Iran to strengthen their weapons capability."

Woodward did not elaborate or specify on what, exactly, the military and technical support - or advanced components - might look like. Senior Biden administration officials, however, told NBC News that the equipment transfer includes air defense systems and helicopters.

The NBC report noted an example of recent support that Russia has provided to Iran, revealing that Iranian pilots traveled to Russia during the spring to train how to fly the Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jet. On the other side of the partnership, Russian officials previously traveled to Iran so they could learn how to operate explosive drones that would later go on to become a weapon of choice for Moscow.

Woodward's comments come a few days after Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, the top US intelligence official, said that Russia is expending its munitions stockpiles faster than the country is able to replenish them. Because of this, US officials say Moscow is looking to Iran for assistance.

For months, Russia has been using the Iranian-made drones - most notably the Shahed-136 suicide drone - to carry out deadly attacks on Ukrainian cities, targeting civilian areas and civil infrastructure. The White House first warned about the partnership over the summer, with US officials later claiming that it was a sign of Russian President Vladimir Putin's desperation.

A drone flies over Kyiv during an attack on October 17, 2022.
A drone flies over Kyiv during an attack on October 17, 2022.  

Western officials recently said that Russia appeared to be out of Iranian-made drones, but they noted that Moscow anticipated a resupply. The assessment came after Britain's defense ministry shared in late November that were no reports of "one way attack" (OWA) drone strikes - a reference to the Shahed-136 - since November 17.

Earlier this week, however, the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said in a Facebook post that it shot down 14 Shahed-136 drones. Britain's defense ministry said in a Friday intelligence update that if these reports are verified, then it is "likely" that Russia expended its previous stockpile of hundreds of Iranian-made drones and restarted its attacks with newly delivered systems from Iran.

Beyond Iran's cooperation with Russia as it attacks Ukraine, US and Western officials have also expressed concerns about Iran's regional influence. In recent weeks, for example, US Navy forces have reported on Iran's malign presence in waters in and around the Middle East on several occasions. Most recently, an Iranian patrol boat earlier this week tried to blind the bridges of two US Navy ships.

"Iran's weapon proliferation poses a real and significant threat well beyond the region - to the whole international community - and jeopardizes the work of the Security Council, not only on Ukraine, but on many other issues," the UK's Woodward said Friday at the UN.

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