Defense Contracts Forever Wars iran M.K. Bhadrakumar Russia-Ukraine

Russia-Iran Relations Take a Quantum Leap

President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Tehran on Tuesday is invested with great importance, as Iran is becoming one of the most consequential relationships for Russia
In this photo released by the official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and his Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi walk at the presidency palace in Tehran, Iran, Tuesday, July 19, 2022. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)

By M.K. Bhadrakumar / Indian Punchline

When the US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan first spoke about a potential Iran-Russian drone deal, Moscow kept quiet and Tehran issued a pro forma rebuttal, which, taken together, suggested that it is a work in progress. Sullivan’s disclosure appeared at the fag-end of a White House briefing for President Biden’s forthcoming West Asia tour to Israel and Saudi Arabia, and seemed to have an element of grandstanding aimed at fueling the latent anti-Iran sentiments in the Gulf region that could, in turn, inject some degree of contemporaneity to POTUS’ signal project to cobble together an Israeli-Arab military front in the region.

In the event, the ploy didn’t work. The West Asian countries continue to resist such regimentation by Washington.  After Biden’s visit got over, the Saudi Arabian foreign minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan told the CNN, amongst other things, that talks are going on between Iran and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states for improvement of relations and the focus should be on engagement and changing Iran’s behavior.

But Sullivan has repeated his charge and since added that an official Russian delegation “recently received a showcase of Iranian attack-capable UAVs,” the last time being as recently as on July 5.

CNN has cited White House officials as saying that Iran is expected to supply Russia with hundreds of drones for use in the war in Ukraine, “with Iran preparing to begin training Russian forces on how to operate them as early as late July.”

Iran is known to have a varied drone ecosystem and is reportedly showcasing to Russia, per the CNN report, the Shahed-191 and Shahed-129 “killer” drones. According to published information, Shahed-129 has a wingspan of 50 feet with a cruising speed of about 160 km per hour, an endurance of 24 hours with a range of 1,700 km and a ceiling of 24,000 feet. The 129 can carry up to eight Sadid-345 miniaturized precision-guided bombs capable of hitting moving targets. The bomb’s small size with a range of 6 km reduces collateral damage and would allow the Shahed to achieve more kills or attack strikes per mission.

The Shahed 191 carries two Sadid-1 missiles internally, has a cruising speed of 300 km/h, an endurance of 4.5 hours, a range of 450 km, and a payload of 50kg. The ceiling is 25,000 ft. Iran’s Fars News Agency says the Shahed 191 has been used in combat in Syria.

Both are stealth drones, harder for air defenses to detect, and can complement each other in operations. Russia is, reportedly, short of such armed drones, which have the capability to undertake long-range missions to find and destroy, for example, the US-supplied HIMARS mobile rocket launchers, which are currently deployed in Ukraine, as well as knocking out Ukrainian air defenses. Besides, drones are relatively cheap and expendable, unlike crewed aircraft.

If the drone deal indeed goes through, as seems quite likely, it will mark a quantum leap in Russia-Iran relations. For, Iran will be doing for Russia something that only China is capable of doing but won’t out of fear of US reprisal. That makes Iran a very special partner country indeed for Russia. Ironically, though, Russia is yet to upgrade its relationship with Iran as “strategic.”

On its part, Iran is literally sticking out its neck in an act of defiance of the West’s “rules-based order”, as Russia will be deploying its weapon systems in the European theater against the air defense systems supplied to Ukraine by the US and NATO countries. There cannot be many parallels of an emerging middle power rendering such critical help to a superpower in high-tech warfare in real conditions on the frontline. Of course, it enhances Iran’s standing regionally and internationally.

In geopolitical terms, however, the important salience lies in the certainty that the door is being slammed shut on the nuclear negotiations between Iran and the US via European mediators, which had been going on Vienna for the past year.

Unsurprisingly, Tehran would have drawn the conclusion already by now that President Joe Biden is virtually dissimulating, while in reality adopting his predecessor’s Iran policies, and the US has reverted to its decades-old (failed) strategy of promoting an Israeli-Arab front against Tehran. Clearly, Tehran is moving on to a renewed trajectory that is predicated on unremitting American hostility.

This will mean that Tehran will double down on its efforts to improve relations with its Arab neighbors and explore all possible avenues in that direction, seizing the window of opportunity in the new Saudi thinking to reduce its dependence on the US and explore its strategic autonomy and independent foreign policy.

It is possible to say that Tehran is a beneficiary of the deepening Saudi-Russian and Saudi-Chinese relationships. Arguably, Saudi Arabia’s quest for BRICS membership brings the Kingdom pretty close to Iran’s world view, which places primacy on a democratized, multipolar world order where every country is free to choose its developmental path and political system.

To be sure, against this historical backdrop of a transformative West Asian region, President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Tehran on Tuesday is invested with great importance. Iran is becoming one of the most consequential relationships for Russia.

What began as a limited alliance in Syria to fight terrorism has taken wings through the past seven-year period and is assuming global character. Late Qassem Soleimani would have felt immensely gratified that his mission to Moscow in July 2015 has succeeded beyond all expectations.


M.K. Bhadrakumar is a former career diplomat. He mainly writes about Indian foreign policy and the affairs of the Middle East, Eurasia, Central Asia, South Asia and the Asia-Pacific.


  1. The JCPOA was part of Obama’s strategy to “pivot” to Asia, to try to interfere with China’s expanding strength and influence.

    Its failure will have several consequences:

    — Increased tension and continued instability in the region. Iran can be expected to ratchet up its asymmetrical actions, pinning some American and toady-allied forces in the area. Russia is already slamming israel for its attacks on Syria, and may take more substantial action to counter these attacks.

    — Iran has attained the technology to fuel and maybe assemble workable nuclear weapons, but will hold off deploying them. They already have land and air-deliverable missiles for the project. Iran can make it clear that a nuclear attack on Iran will result in the obliteration of Israel: conventional attacks will cause punishing strikes on Israel from Iran, Lebanon, Syria and other areas where Iran has regular and irregular forces, including Iraq.

    Collapse of the JCPOA – – first by Trump’s withdrawal and now by Biden’s slo-mo non-compliance — will emphasize a key point already underlined by Iran — “commitments” by the US are written in disappearing ink.

    Something Native Americans could have told anyone listening and something the Ukrainian comedian might want to consider.

    1. Babyaga, wonderful reference of Natives!!
      The West’s ‘ rule based’ are always to the benefit and profits for the G7.

  2. It is possible that one day the people of the world will look at Vladimir Putin as the man who freed them from the clutches of the Empire of Lies.

    Kind of a global George Washington. I find that ironic and amusing.

  3. Jul 19, 2022 Russia’s Putin arrives in Iran for talks on Syrian conflict, Ukraine grain

    In his first trip outside the former Soviet Union since the invasion of Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Iran for a summit with his Iranian and Turkish counterparts on Syrian conflict, Iranian state TV said on Tuesday.

  4. It is much more than just expansion of Russia-Iran relations amid western suicidal economic aggression against both.

    In fact broader political developments that concern Russian sphere of influence are occurring in last 6 months.

    NATO opened another fronts of this war.

    There is already for over three months US orchestrated ongoing attempt of Regime change operation against pro Russian Armenian government via almost daily western NGOs led street demonstrations against Armenian military support for war in Ukraine.

    Similar US instigated demonstrations against Russia friendly government of Uzbekistan reportedly resulted with dozens dead and hundreds injured.

    Similar destabilization attempts also took place in Russian trade dependent Kazakhstan that so far escaped US secondary sanctions despite exporting its oil almost exclusively via Russian Black Sea port.

    Putin extensively is traveling Central Asia to put down those fires and shore up support and part of that effort is to engage together Iran and Turkey that have a leverage over Azerbaijan that completes Caspian see region.

    Not less effort Putin makes to shore up Arab countries political support as unbiased negotiator between Iran and Saudis to end low level hostilities and mutual aggressive rhetoric and may be Yemen war.

    So far Russia won economic support from entire OPEC+ and political support from Saudis and UAE and all African states that refused to join anti Russia sanctions and actively violate them.

    Accommodation of Erdogan by Putin as far as Syria is concerned would add Qatar, a nat gas empire, to the list of common front regarding dismantling of Western economic domination. Qatar already rebuked EU and demand 25 year commitment before sighing delivery contract. No need to say how it would look in eyes of EU Green agenda pushers.

    And surprisingly for many the main reason for Arab united front is .. so called GC/green policies that could drastically reduce consumption of fossil fuels in the near future. Energy producers unite is Putin’s message in Middle East. Biden calls are ignored.

    Creation of OPEC+ is a direct countermeasure to phony Wall Street green agenda becoming real.

    Before such agenda was blatantly phony and even attracted Saudis to support meaningless IPCC programs.

    However now a pretext of Western economic war on Russia is used by green fanatics to make dramatic reduction of fossil fuels usage for real. But not as an expression of green agenda but pretext for political anti Euroasian agenda of global confrontation.

    As Bloomberg pointed out there are no miracles, such aggressive anti fossil fuels policies in reality equal to western uncontrollable economic collapse of massive de-growth policies as one of IPCC scenarios calls for.

    Of course it means mass poverty, economic and financial instability of EU and the west and collapse of euro and dollar as they are backed by nothing but economic growth.

    Western elites disregard even their corporate not to mention people’s constituents and clearly going for such destructive and ultimately murderous policies against middle-class, working class, poor and vulnerable part of society.

    Of course they will tell jobless, homeless, starving, baking and freezing that Putin did it.

    What western elites want is to defend democracy of dead corpses.

    1. Kalen, we are stuck with what we have, nothing much will change. But, Trump and GOP certainly are trying very considerably to pull a Coup right here in our USA, and they might just succeed as we have plenty of expertise and experience in coups.

      So, hang on to your hat, November elections and aftermath will ‘be wild’.
      Since Trump’s gang already voted down more Ukraine aid, they, with control of both Houses, could go as far as stopping all aid next year.
      Besides, Europe will be frozen, hungry and broke by then. Can
      Germany and France with stand a collapse of their economy? Or suffer cold, discomfort, starvation, and lack of electricity… If you were in those European shoes how much would you suffer??
      Is Ukraine really worth a Hot war? We have been totally wrong about the Domino Theory in our wars with Korea’s civil war and Vietnam’s civil war. Will Western nations fall like dominoes to Russia??….
      Likely, Iran, China will fall into more cooperation against the West as we love to have enemies.

  5. Biden and his Imperialistic,Capitalist bosses are going to.reap that which they have sown.About goddammit time After all.the survival.of the human.race and the planet is at stake.

    1. I would like to believe your right, but Biden has made no secret of what a vile creature he is from the very beginning of his political career. For 40 years or so he has proudly declared his vileness and predilection for children and corruption in hundreds of videos and TV clips….and for it he was promoted right up to the Presidency.

      He has sown a continent of pain suffering and misery for others, and all he has so far reaped in return is 10 percent for the big guy, and a life lived above the law.

      So I’ll believe it when I see it.

  6. Is the ‘reward’ to Iranian-Russian photo-op a nuclear bomb?

    Is Putin trying to resurrect the failed Warsaw pact with Iran and Turkey?

    1. Answering your queries with questions : are Westerners increasingly the Quad? And 5 eyes? And more naval bases in Asia? There are
      More and more attempts to start up an Asian Nato, according to western media reports.
      Australia is getting nuclear attack subs but not Iran. Japan is now on track to return to its militarized past.
      Iran’s economy is barely surviving and Turkey has always had border wars with Russia ( also sell drones to Ukraine that destroyed Russia tanks) so this threesome scares no one, but makes wonderful excuses to increase Pentagon budgets by more billions.
      Putin and Xi fulfills our needs for enemies otherwise our expensive F35s and 13 billion $ air carriers are wasted chasing camel mounted warriors lost in vast deserts. No logical military man would use a $500,000 missile on a terrorist but shiny, new modern warship is perfect. ( many thanks to China for great opportunities to use them).

  7. the US humiliation in Ukraine, the ascendance and expansion of BRICS signifies the decline and fall of the moribund US empire

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