Iran is preparing to send approximately 1,000 additional weapons, including surface-to-surface short range ballistic missiles and more attack drones, to Russia to use in its war against Ukraine, officials from a western country that closely monitors Iran’s weapons program told CNN.
The shipment is being closely monitored because it would be the first instance of Iran sending advanced precision guided missiles to Russia, which could give the Kremlin a substantial boost on the battlefield.
The last shipment of weapons from Iran to Russia included about 450 drones, officials said, which the Russians have already used to deadly effect in Ukraine. Ukrainian officials said last week that they have shot down more than 300 Iranian drones.
This new expected shipment would mark a significant increase in Iranian support to Russia’s war effort. While the precise timing of when the shipment will arrive in Russia is unclear, officials believe the weapons will definitely be delivered before the end of the year.
Drones have played a significant role in the conflict since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in late February, but their use has increased since the summer, when the United States and Kyiv say Moscow acquired drones from Iran. In recent weeks these Iranian drones have been used to target critical energy infrastructure in Ukraine.
A senior US defense official on Monday said they didn’t have any information to provide on the suggestion Iran is preparing to send missiles to Russia for use in Ukraine.
The Iranian mission to the United Nations did not respond to a request for comment about the new expected shipment. Iran has previously denied supplying Russia with weapons for use in Ukraine, saying it “has not and will not” do so.
The Washington Post was first to report Iran’s plans to send missiles and additional drones to Russia.
Some background: Last week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US was “looking at everything that we can do, not just with sanctions” in order to disrupt the Iranian weaponry from going to Russia. But it is unclear if the US will be able to prohibit further shipments from going ahead, even as concerns mount about Iranians sending even more advanced weaponry to Russia. US officials have also said that they are aware of discussions about additional Iranian weaponry to Russia that has not yet been delivered.