Russia and Iran Agree to Deepen Security Ties

Latest Developments

Russia is ready to expand military and technical cooperation with Iran, the Russian state-owned media outlet RIA Novosti reported on April 26. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and his Iranian counterpart Gharaei Ashtiani discussed enhanced security ties during a meeting in Kazakhstan of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a security grouping whose members include Russia, India, China, Iran, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. Shoigu reportedly highlighted a significant increase in military contracts between Tehran and Moscow during the meeting.

Expert Analysis

“Russia and Iran have been increasingly able to compartmentalize areas of disagreement and difference in order to come together against shared adversaries. The decision to tighten ties is not a reaction to Western pressure but a wake-up call that more pressure is needed to increase the costs of this relationship to both parties, while also highlighting the need for a strategy to magnify their differences.” — Behnam Ben Taleblu, FDD Senior Fellow

“In light of new American aid to Ukraine, Russia will continue to seek more help from its allies. A Russian win is an Iranian win. Russia and Iran believe the United States is their common enemy, and they are united against Washington. Ukraine and Israel are two battlefields that Iran and Russia use to achieve not only their military but also their ideological goals to rewrite the international world order.” — Ivana Stradner, FDD Research Fellow

Russian and Iranian Cooperation Key to Anti-U.S. Axis

The defense ministers’ meeting followed an April 17 revelation of secret Russian government documents envisioning greater coordination with Iran, China, and North Korea to reshape the U.S.-led world order. In December, Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed Russia-Iran cooperation in the energy, business, agricultural, and knowledge-based sectors, following increased economic cooperation between Moscow and Tehran to evade Western sanctions.

Russian-Iranian Cooperation on Lethal Drone Technologies

On April 25, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada issued new sanctions on entities suspected of supporting the Iranian drone industry. Since Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine, Tehran has provided hundreds of drones to Moscow while seeking advanced military equipment in return. In mid-2022, Iran exported the Shahed-131 (also known as “Geran-1”) kamikaze drones and Shahed-136 (which Russia calls “Geran-2”) suicide drones to Russia for use against Ukraine. Russia ramped up efforts in August 2023 to domestically produce about 6,000 Geran-2 drones and outmatch Iranian capacity by 2025, in coordination with Iran.

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