How Russia and Iran Deepen Cooperation and How Ukraine Could Act On It

Thursday, 26 January 2023

Iran has finally confirmed after a long pause that the country will receive a large package of military assistance from Russia. The first deliveries are scheduled for March 21.

Iran also expects Su-35 fighter jets - the best item that Russia manufactures. Although Tehran does not specify the number of jets. Earlier the Israeli media, referring to their data, indicated that it could be about 24 fighters.

Should Iran receive Su-35 jets, it could seriously upset the regional balance of power, which would have far-reaching consequences for the entire region.

Iran and Russia demonstratively announced the deepening of cooperation in various fields throughout 2022. The two rogue countries signed some important agreements to strengthen trade and economic, logistics, energy, and military cooperation.

Russia actively uses Iran's experience circumventing sanctions, allocating loans to Iran instead.

They also aim to join forces given the deepening economic crisis in both countries: devaluation of national currencies, capital outflow, closure of specific low-volume sales markets, etc.

Based on dynamics that have intensified in such classic fields as energy, oil exports from Iran, etc., the shadow IT sector, which makes money from cyber-attacks and cryptocurrency mining, has become a promising sector for deepening cooperation.

Moreover, Russia and Iran are discussing the creation of a new unit of account - the Gulf token, and the revival of several infrastructure projects, particularly the international transport corridor "North-South."

Military-technical cooperation counts too.

Russia wants to get ballistic missiles from Iran to continue the war with Ukraine.

In addition, conditions have been created for testing Iranian-made weapons on the battlefield, which could strengthen the position of the Iranian defence industry.

Iran has been unable to upgrade its aircraft fleet for years under sanctions. Meanwhile, their potential adversaries in the region have been purchasing the latest Western-made fighter jets.

As a result, the regional aviation sector imbalance is not Iran's strongest side.

Given regional security, the Su-35 delivery is unlikely to radically change the balance of power in the region in favour of Iran.

Moreover, Iran has quite enough capabilities to continue creating problems for the region.

The biggest concern is about the possible supply of S-400 air defence systems, which could create additional obstacles for Israel in eliminating the Iranian nuclear threat. Thanks to Russian financing, the expansion of Iranian production of missiles and drones strikes Israeli territory at the hands of terrorist organisations.

The deepening of cooperation between Iran and Russia threatens Ukraine directly. The possible expansion of supplies of ballistic missiles and other means of destruction has already jeopardised diplomatic relations between Ukraine and Iran.

Last year, the reaction of the Ukrainian side was unambiguous. But they defined the provision of ballistic missiles as "red lines" that will have specific negative consequences.

However, the possibility of receiving new jet equipment and anti-aircraft defence may change Tehran's mind, which is alarming for Kyiv.

It seems impossible to completely stop the deepening of cooperation between Iran and Russia right now. However, we could create conditions for the complete political and economic isolation of the two regimes.

Moreover, further developing partnership relations with Russia will allow Iran to strengthen its destabilising activities, particularly in waging proxy wars against regional and global adversaries.

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