Iran Preparing To Provide Russia With Weapons-Capable Drones

On July 11th, 2023 U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan stated that the White House believes Russia is turning to Iran to provide it with hundreds of unmanned aerial vehicles, including weapons-capable drones, for use in its ongoing war in Ukraine. Sullivan made the comments when briefing reporters on U.S. President Joe Biden’s upcoming trip to Israel and Saudi Arabia later in the week. Sullivan disclosed the information to exhibit the difficulty Russia is experiencing in sustaining its own efforts as the Russian regime’s war in Ukraine nears six months.

U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said it was unclear whether Iran has already provided any of the drone systems to Russia, but that the U.S. has intel which suggests Iran is preparing to train Russian forces to use the UAVs as soon as this month. “Our information indicates that the Iranian government is preparing to provide Russia with up to several hundred UAVs, including weapons-capable UAVs on an expedited timeline,” Sullivan told reporters. Because of the impending Iranian aid, it is clear that Russia’s efforts and unceasing attacks in Ukraine which have led to gains in the country’s east in recent weeks have been “coming at a cost to the sustainment of its own weapons.” Sullivan also noted that Iran has provided similar UAVs to Yemen’s Houthi rebels to attack Saudi Arabia before a ceasefire was reached earlier this year.

Bolstering arms and weapons technology is not the way forward. The Russian regime, rather than moving to de-escalate the conflict in light of limited success on the grand scale, has chosen to continue to escalate the conflict, involving more parties and expanding destruction. If Iran is truly providing Russia with additional weapons for use in Ukraine, the potential for peacebuilding efforts will continue to fade from the perspective of feasible possibilities. Countries should continue to advocate for peaceful resolutions and refrain from remaining neutral or enabling Russia’s damaging endeavors. 

Iran’s nuclear program and suspect activities in the region will be a key subject of discussion during President Biden’s trip to Israel and Saudi Arabia. The U.S. decision to disclose that the two countries’ regional rival is helping to rearm Russia was made in anticipation of such discussions. As both Israel and Saudi Arabia have resisted joining global efforts to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine due to their domestic interests, Biden is likely to urge diplomacy and conflict alternatives in his talks with each country.

Unsurprisingly, the Russian regime persists in escalating the conflict in Ukraine. Russia’s efforts to expand their artillery bode well neither for future implications of the conflict nor for future peace talks and expansion of diplomatic relations. Nevertheless, with limited favorable relationships remaining on the international stage following its presence in Ukraine, Russia continues its trudge down a disruptive and fruitless path.