Tehran has a direct supply route to Russia for weapons, and Western states can do little to stop them.
Iran supplies Russia with Shahed drones and other munitions in large volumes. This was confirmed by the investigation of the CNN channel. In particular, journalists spoke with experts who monitor the movement of maritime cargo and believe that it is through the Caspian Sea that a significant batch of kamikaze drones, mortar shells and other weapons sold by Tehran in the Kremlin for the war against Ukraine is moving. .
Iran and Russia have been actively hiding the movement of ships in the Caspian Sea since September last year. This comes after the governments of the United States and Ukraine said Moscow bought the drones from Tehran last summer. At the same time, analysts believe that Kyiv’s allies in the West have little ability to stop such arms transfers.
“There is no risk to Iran’s exports to the Caspian Sea because of the border countries – they don’t have the ability or the motive to prevent these types of exchanges,” said Martin Kelly, a leading intelligence analyst at security firm EOS Risk. Group, on CNN.
Note that we are talking about Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan, which have ports on the Caspian Sea. It was “the perfect environment for this trade to go through without opposition,” Kelly added.
“The Caspian Sea is likely one of the main routes from Iran to Russia for attack drones and other support related to Western sanctions. Data on the movement of cargo ships indicates that the cargo ships in the Caspian are increasingly turning off transponders (an automatic identification system that was adopted to be kept together under the Resolution of the International Maritime Organization – ed.), and this indicates that they have reasons for secrecy,” the newspaper letter.
Between August and September 2022, there was an increase in the number of ships in the Caspian Sea that turned off tracking data, Kelly said. According to Lloyd’s List Intelligence, the number of ships turning off their transponders remains high in 2023. The loss of signals was most frequently recorded near the Iranian ports of Bandar Amirabad and Anzali, as well as in the Russian Volga and the port of Astrakhan .
“CNN tracked six Russian-flagged ships and two Iranian ones, which, according to the analysts interviewed, were behaving suspiciously. The ships turned off the transmission when approaching Amirabad and Astrakhan, or moved for a long time with the transponders turned off,” the report said.
“There is a correlation between Russia’s purchase of drones from Iran, port calls in the Caspian Sea and an increase in dark AIS activity,” Kelly added.
Ukraine, its Western allies and security analysts also believe that Iran is sending weapons and ammunition to Russia by air. In particular, three Iranian state-owned airlines and “one said to be private” called Mahan Air transported the “shaheeds” and instructors to Moscow. However, in 2011, the US Treasury Department authorized Mahan Air for transporting weapons, fighter jets and supplies to the Iranian Quds Force.
Last year, the US Department of Commerce identified four Iranian cargo planes that flew to Russia in violation of US export controls, with US authorities linking the ships to “shipping goods to Russia,” including “military.”
Journalists analyzed Flightradar24 tracking data, which showed that from May 2022 to March of this year, these four cargo planes made at least 85 flights to Russia.
“Although part of the Iranian Shahed can be brought to Russia by plane, the sea route is more profitable, because it allows you to deliver a larger cargo at a time,” CNN journalists summarized.
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I am David Wyatt, a professional writer and journalist for Buna Times. I specialize in the world section of news coverage, where I bring to light stories and issues that affect us globally. As a graduate of Journalism, I have always had the passion to spread knowledge through writing.