Iran is seeking to acquire large numbers of Russian attack helicopters, warplanes and air defense systems in repayment for its support of Russia’s war against Ukraine, U.S. officials said, APA reports citing Washington Post.
The White House has warned that these weapons could substantially increase Tehran’s ability to threaten its neighbors or repel future attacks.
The combat aircraft are part of an Iranian wish list that includes billions of dollars in Russian military hardware, an infusion of aid that, if delivered, could further destabilize a Middle East that already appears to be inching closer to armed conflict.
Details of Iran’s request were released by the Biden administration Friday as part of an intelligence assessment describing deepening military ties between Moscow and Tehran. The assessment confirms previous reports about plans by the two countries to build a production facility for Iranian-designed attack drones inside Russia, giving Moscow greater domestic capacity to produce unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, for use in airstrikes against Ukrainian cities.
“This is a full-scale defense partnership that is harmful to Ukraine, to Iran’s neighbors and to the international community,” White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said.
The White House has repeatedly criticized Iran for supplying self-detonating attack drones for Russia’s long-running assault on Ukrainian cities and civilian centers. Kirby confirmed that Russia is “receiving materials from Iran needed to build a UAV manufacturing plant” inside Russia. The White House released images of a facility in the Alabuga Special Economic Zone, in Russia’s Tatarstan republic, that U.S. officials said is a planned manufacturing center for Iranian drones.
“This plant could be fully operational next year,” Kirby said.
The White House also released a map depicting what officials said was the supply route for Iranian UAVs heading toward Russian launch sites to the north and east of Ukraine. According to the map, drones are shipped from northern Iran across the Caspian Sea to the Russian port of Makhachkala, and then overland to a pair of Russian military bases near the Ukrainian frontier.