New Delhi: Russia has been capturing some of the weapons that Ukraine received from US and NATO and sending them to Iran, where the US believes Tehran will make their own copies of the systems, CNN reported.
Over the past few years, there have been several instances where Russia has captured small sized shoulder-fired weapons, including Javelin anti-tank systems and Stinger anti-aircraft systems, which the Ukrainian military had to abandon on the battlefield.
In many cases, Russia has sent the captured military equipment to Iran for further dismantling and analysis, likely so that the Iranian troops could try and create their own copies of these weapons. Russia believes that supplying Iran with the Western weapons will stimulate Tehran to continue supporting the Russian war against Ukraine.
Although it’s not yet clear if Iran has successfully been able to reverse-engineer any of the US weapons taken in Ukraine, but Tehran has proven highly adept at developing weapons systems based on US equipment seized in the past, CNN reported.
“Iran has demonstrated the capability to reverse-engineer US weapons in the past. They reverse-engineered the TOW anti-tank guided missile, creating a near-perfect replica they called the Toophan, and have since proliferated it to the Houthis and Hezbollah. Iran could do the same with a Stinger, which could threaten both civil and military aviation throughout the region. A reverse-engineered Javelin could be used by Hamas or Hezbollah to threaten an Israeli Merkava tank. In the hands of Iran’s proxies, these weapons pose a real threat to Israel’s conventional military forces,” CNN quoted Jonathan Lord, director of the Middle East security program at the Center for a New American Security, as saying.
Notably, this coordination is an example of a growing defence partnership between Russia and Iran, which has grown stronger over the past year since Russia became more desperate for external military aid in its war against Ukraine.
John Kirby, Coordinator for Strategic Communications at the National Security Council in the White House, said that this partnership would not only destabilise Ukraine, but can also pose a threat for Iran’s neighbouring states in the Middle East.