Russia sent cash and stolen Western weapons to Iran in August, the first glimpse of what Tehran has been getting in exchange for helping the Russian war effort in Ukraine.
“As always, there’s no free lunch in international politics and not least among the likes of Moscow and Tehran,” Behnam Ben Taleblu, senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Fox News Digital. “Not only does Iran get to use Ukraine as another testing ground for its unmanned aerial threats, but it gets to empower Putin’s war machine which both distracts world attention from the Middle East as well as imposes a death by a thousand cuts strategy against the West.”
Ben Taleblu’s comments come after a Sky News report Tuesday revealed Russia flew over $140 million of stolen Western anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles to Iran. The weapons include a British NLAW anti-tank missile, a U.S. Javelin anti-tank missile and a Stinger anti-aircraft missile that were part of a shipment to Ukraine, but “fell into Russian hands,” the outlet said, citing a security source.
The source said the shipment of Western weapons could allow Iran to reverse-engineer them and be used in future wars,” something Ben Taleblu warned would “improve Iran’s already evolving domestic arms production capabilities.”
Sky News shared satellite photos they claim show two Russian military cargo planes at Mehrabad Airport in Tehran in August, with the source saying the cash and munitions were Russia’s payment for the suicide drones Iran has provided to Russia for use in Ukraine over the last few months.
The source added that Russia has added more drones worth over $200 million over the past few days.
“For the first time we have a glimmer of insight into what Russia may be providing Iran in exchange for loitering munitions and unmanned combat aerial vehicles,” Ben Taleblu said. “What’s more, the latest report validates past Israeli concerns pertaining to problems that might arise from potential air defense system transfers to Ukraine like the iron dome.”
In October, Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu, who is expected to regain his post as prime minister following the 2022 Israeli legislative election, expressed concern about Israel agreeing to send anti-aircraft weapons to Ukraine, arguing such shipments risk ending up in Iran.
“On the question of weapons there’s always a possibility, and this has happened time and again, that weapons that we supplied in one battlefield end up in Iranian hands used against us,” Netanyahu said during an October interview with MSNBC. “In the Golan Heights, where we’re trying to prevent Iran from creating a second Lebanon front, a second terrorist front against us, we encounter Israeli-made weapons.”