Russia’s buying Iran-made loitering munitions as a quick and cheap alternative for use against Ukraine in the ongoing war.
In a November meeting, the two parties reached an agreement for Tehran to produce its Kamikaze drones on Russian soil. They are moving rapidly to transfer designs and key components that could allow production to begin within months, The Washington Post reported, citing Western officials.
Russia has deployed more than 400 Iranian-made attack drones against Ukraine since August, intelligence officials say, with many of the aircraft used in strikes against civilian infrastructure targets such as power plants.
Cyril Widdershoven, a Middle East defense and energy specialist at the Strategy International think tank and Verocy, tells The Media Line that the possibility of Iran producing these exploding drones in Russia is real since the ongoing cooperation between both countries is known to exist, and it also presents them with a win-win situation.
He said Iran "will need more non-Western support, looking at the ongoing protests in Iran itself, which have the potential to be a real threat to the Khamenei regime."
On the other side, it fulfills Russia’s urgent need for drones. Alex Grinberg, a former Israeli military intelligence officer and an expert on Iran at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, told The Media Line that "Russia has no drones neither of the sufficient levels of development nor a sufficient quantity.”
A drone requires a team of at least two or three persons to control it – one is responsible for the flight, another is responsible for the navigation, and a third is responsible for the weapons.
A loitering munition or suicide drone is much simpler and one can build it with components that can be purchased on eBay, Grinberg said.
He said the two countries “don’t really love or like each other,” citing an example of their conflict over partition of the territorial waters of the Caspian Sea.
"It is not about ideology," Grinberg reiterated. "They want to earn money, and the Russians need specifically these weapons," he added.
Moreover, Iran’s leaders believe that they can avert new European sanctions if the drones are physically assembled in Russia.