Russia gave Western weapons captured in Ukraine to Iran in exchange for drones, a report by British news channel Sky News suggests, referring to an anonymous source close to the matter.
A Stinger man-portable anti-aircraft defense system (MANPADS), a Javelin anti-tank missile system and a British-made NLAW anti-tank missile system, along with €140 million in cash were exchanged for 100 Shahed-136 loitering munitions and 60 drones of other types, the report said.
The anonymous source reportedly provided satellite photos of two Russian Ilyushin IL-76 military transport aircraft, which are alleged to have delivered the weapons and the money, at Teheran Mehrabad airport.
The flight took place on August 20, 2022, the source claimed, and the aircraft returned to Russia loaded with Iranian-made drones.
The claims are in line with previous reports regarding Iranian drone deliveries to Russia.
In July 2022 United States National Security Advisor to President Joe Biden, Jake Sullivan said that the US had intelligence that Iran had agreed to provide “several hundred” of combat drones to Russia.
The first shipments were reported to have reached Russia in late August, according to US intelligence officials, who said several Iranian aircraft delivered the drones on August 19.
According to the Ukrainian government, both sea and air routes are being used to deliver Iranian drones to Russia, with Russian Il-76 military transporters and Iranian airlines, such as Iran Air and Mahan Air, flying the cargo.
The shipment, described in the Sky News report, appears to be just one of numerous transactions between Iran and Russia.
Other abovementioned reports describe dozens of flights carrying the drones, meanwhile in late October Ukrainian Air Force said more than 300 Shahed-136s were shot down over the country in two months.
However, the attacks took a heavy toll on Ukrainian civilian infrastructure.
Russia commenced the use of Iran-supplied drones in late September 2022, launching an attack on Ukraine’s southern city of Odessa.
Since then, a mix of cruise missiles and suicide drones were used in the bombardment that prioritized energy infrastructure such as powerplants.
On November 1, 2022, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said up to 40% of the country’s energy system had been damaged, forcing Ukraine to stop exporting electricity abroad and drastically cutting its energy consumption.