Two of America’s biggest rivals – Iran and Russia – are cementing stronger ties as their isolation from the international world stage is driving them to conduct more trade and military and scientific cooperation.
The deliberate isolation of Russia with sanctions following its invasion of Ukraine has only accelerated efforts to bring Russia and Iran together. Both countries have often talked of establishing closer ties in the past, with few concrete results. (Related: Epic fail: Brandon’s sanctions have actually benefited the Russian economy.)
But now that extreme Russian sanctions have cut off many of the Russian economy’s former ties with the West, it has turned to Iran to help both countries mitigate the impact of sanctions by mutually finding new markets for their products.
Since the start of the year, bilateral trade between Russia and Iran has gone up by 10 percent. Some of the new deals being negotiated by Iranian and Russian traders include Iran selling clothing to Russian retailers to replace the disappearing Western brands and Iranian factories providing Russian car makers with automotive spare parts.
Perhaps more importantly, in July, Iran surpassed Egypt and Turkey to become Russia’s largest wheat buyer, receiving nearly 400,000 tons of wheat that month, more than double what the other two countries receive.
“Iran can only buy wheat from a limited number of sources,” said Masha Belikova, a London-based grains analyst. “When the war started, Russia was targeted by sanctions and faced payments issues. Iran was one of the few countries ready to accept” the political risk of continuing to trade with Russia.
Russia, Iran also agree on closer military cooperation
Perhaps more alarming to the United States is the increased military cooperation between Russia and Iran.
Back in June, American intelligence alleged that Iran hosted a Russian delegation to showcase the country’s attack drones. Intelligence further claims that Iran is training Russian soldiers to use Iranian military technology in Ukraine.
Iranian drone technology has proven to be pivotal to the country’s military doctrine. Iranian drones have proved instrumental in asymmetrical warfare attacks carried out by Iran and its allies in the Gaza Strip, Iraq and Yemen against their enemies, which include Israel and Saudi Arabia.
Tehran has denied any kind of involvement in Russia’s war in Ukraine. Brig. Gen. Ali Balali, a top airforce officer of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, said that the drone showcase was aimed to better the fight against global terrorism.
The Department of Defense claims that Russia and Iran have worked out a deal for “hundreds” of Iranian drones of various types to be purchased by Russia. Pentagon spokesperson Todd Breasseale claims these drones are meant to be used in Ukraine.
Pentagon intelligence further claims that the first tranche of Iranian drones has already arrived in Russia. The drones are the Qods Mohajer-6 and Shahed 129 drones. Breasseale noted that both drones can be used to conduct airstrikes, electronic warfare, targeting, surveillance and reconnaissance.
“Russia deepening their alliance with Iran is something that the whole world – and especially those in [Eastern Europe] – should watch and see as a profound threat,” said Breasseale. “We will vigorously enforce all U.S. sanctions on both the Russian and Iranian arms trade and we will stand with our allies and partners throughout the region against the Iranian threat.”
Beyond the drone transfers, American intelligence has reported that on Aug. 9, Russia launched a satellite with “significant spying capabilities” on Iran’s behalf. The satellite could also allegedly be used to monitor Ukrainian troop movements.
Iran claims the satellite will bolster “management and planning capacities” in agriculture, water resources, border monitoring and disaster management.
“This demonstrates that as Russia endures costs on the battlefield in Ukraine, it is experiencing difficulties in sustaining its own weapons, as it looks to countries like Iran for capabilities to sustain its forces,” claimed Breasseale. “It also makes the case for U.S. enlargement in the region so we don’t leave a vacuum for China or Russia.”
Learn more about the escalating tensions between world powers at WWIII.news.
Watch this video from “South Front” explaining the recent American airstrikes against alleged Iranian troops in northeastern Syria.
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