It was reported on that the United States had imposed new sanctions on 21 individuals and entities believed to be involved in financing activities for Iranian military and paramilitary forces. The measures were revealed as tensions continue to rise throughout the surrounding region, and just one day after Tehran claimed to be on the cusp of a major upgrade to its military capabilities, care of its continually expanding relationships with the Russian Federation.
Officials from the Iranian Ministry of Defense told the state-affiliated Tasnim News Agency on that Tehran and Moscow had concluded a long-anticipated deal for the transfer of Russian jet fighters and helicopters to Iran. If implemented, such a deal would allow the Iranian air force to finally replace some of the aging, American-made aircraft that have comprised its entire arsenal since before the 1979 Islamic revolution.
Although the existing Iranian air force is considered the largest in the region, it is also understood to be at a serious disadvantage against more technologically advanced adversaries, particularly Israel. However, this has not stopped Iranian authorities from threatening its adversaries, especially after the October 7 attack that triggered the recent war in Gaza.
As is typical, those threats have largely relied upon reference to Iran’s other militant proxies in the region, rather than to its own military. State media has gone so far as to diagram what it might look like if all of those groups attacked Israel at once, from various sides. The establishment of a more modern Iranian air force might yet embolden Tehran to include its own military operations as part of that broader vision, especially if it signified that the Iranian regime’s posture in this conflict had the backing of a greater power.
So far, that has not been the case. Although Iranian-Russian relations have been developing for many years and have been accelerated by international sanctions imposed upon Iran over its nuclear activities and upon Russia over its ongoing war against Ukraine, the fact remains that Russia has traditionally had a cooperative relationship with Israel and is seemingly unwilling to involve itself in what many have described as a proxy war between the Israel and Iran’s regime.
The implicit threats from an upgraded Iranian air force are further diminished by the fact that Russia has provided no confirmation of a finalized deal, while this is not the first time that Iran has claimed a transfer is imminent. Earlier this year, Iranian state media broadcast images of fortified hangars which the military had reportedly set up to receive the Su-35 fighters it had been expecting. That expectation is grounded in Moscow’s perceived indebtedness to Tehran for the continuous supply of Iranian-made drones to be used as tools for keeping pressure on Ukraine, particularly through attacks on civilian infrastructure.
Most Western powers share the perception that Russia owes something to Iran, even if they question the latter’s claims about what form the repayment will take and how quickly it will arrive. In fact, it appears as if a greater concern for the United States and its allies is that the Islamic Republic might soon expand its support for the Russian war effort. On November 21, the White House revealed intelligence pointing to the potential Russian purchase of Iranian ballistic missiles. Moscow has tacitly encouraged that concern by stating that it has no intention of adhering to restrictions on the trade of such weapons with Iran, now that a relevant provision of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231 has expired. The United States, Britain, and the European Union, on the other hand, continue to enforce the now-expired sanctions, in response to Iran’s preexisting arms sales and the acceleration of its nuclear activities.
In the wake of the American intelligence disclosure, independent security experts have noted that there is some uncertainty as to the timing and scale of forthcoming Russian purchases of Iranian missiles, and indeed whether they are forthcoming at all. No concrete statements on the matter have come from either side of the would-be transactions, but both appear to be making concerted efforts to stoke Western anxiety about military cooperation between the two rogue states.
On Tuesday, the Russian news agency TASS quoted Professor Hadi Goudarzi, counselor for science and education at the Iranian Embassy in Moscow, as saying that the two countries have made significant technical achievements together, but “the potential for cooperation between Iran and Russia is far from being exhausted.”
This was arguably in tension with remarks made by Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani in a press conference the previous day. Kanaani directly rejected Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s call for fresh international sanctions to forestall the supply of ballistic missiles to Iran, then went on to argue that Iran’s cooperation with Russia “does not mean confrontation with Ukraine.”
The Foreign Ministry spokesman accused Western adversaries of using “media hype” in an effort to “influence Ukrainian officials’ positions and impact the two countries’ relations.” He also reiterated Tehran’s official denial of having provided any weapons to Russia since the start of war early last year, despite the fact that numerous independent analyses have confirmed the Iranian origin of drone components recovered from attack sites inside Ukraine.
Ukrainian media outlets and intelligence services have continually warned about both recent and forthcoming Iranian military transfers to Russia, making it somewhat ironic that Kanaani has now appealed directly to Ukrainian authorities to safeguard their own relationships with Iranian counterparts against supposed sabotage from the West.
Source » iranfocus