Russian President Vladimir Putin's meeting with Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei scheduled for next week could play a key role in deciding whether Tehran will support Russia in the war against Ukraine.
This opinion was expressed by an expert on Iran, writer and journalist Yulia Yuzik in an interview with The Insider.
She noted that the statement by US national security adviser Jake Sullivan that the Iranian government was preparing to provide Russia with several hundred drones, made a few days before the meeting between Putin and Khamenei, can be regarded as a signal for Tehran.
“Sullivan voiced it publicly to show red lines for Iran. He shows that he knows all the behind-the-scenes and shady schemes, arrangements and so on, and has been shown to be a red line. There is information that Ukraine was already ready to terminate diplomatic relations with Iran on the basis of information voiced by Sullivan,” says Yuzik.
The journalist noted that there is a fairly large diaspora of Iranians in Ukraine.
“Iran and Ukraine have very close ties because there are many interethnic marriages. There is a fairly large Ukrainian diaspora in Iran, because Iranians often marry Ukrainians. I'm not talking about the military ties that were before, plus Iran buys wheat and so on,” Yuzik notes.
In her opinion, the further development of the situation with the supply of ammunition and military equipment to Russia by Iran will depend on what Putin proposes to Khamenei at the meeting to be held on July 19 in Tehran.
“Putin is going to Iran on the 19th. It is not yet clear where Tehran will turn. Either it goes to a serious and deep confrontation with the United States, turning to Russia. This is such an anti-sanction union of going into gray schemes. There are a lot of beneficiaries of these schemes both in Iran and in Russia. Either not. Khamenei has not yet made a decision. It is important what Putin will bring him, what he will offer him. I am inclined to the 50/50 option, because Iran is generally pro-Western – society, the business elite and the political elite are absolutely pro-Western, but it is Khamenei and his influential son, who is tipped to be Khamenei's heirs and who oversees most of the special services, are pro-Russian . And Russia is doing everything possible to get them,” Yuzik said.
Khamenei and some of the Iranian elites associated with gray schemes made billions of dollars on them, now stored in Switzerland or the United Arab Emirates, Yuzik explains. These people benefit from keeping Iran's economy illegal.
“This is a whole financial empire scattered around the world, and it is based on shady schemes for selling oil, weapons, drug trafficking and so on. The advantage of all these schemes is that this money does not go to the state budget, it goes to these private Islamic funds, which are supervised by the supreme spiritual leader. For these people, access to transparency – the sale of legal oil and the receipt of revenues in the budget – is a loss of colossal money. This is the main battle right now – the division of this pie.
On July 16, it became known that Russian representatives visited Iran's central airfield at least twice in the past month to inspect combat drones. This was reported by CNN, citing Sullivan and exclusive satellite imagery.
According to the publication, in June and early July, Iran demonstrated Shahed-191 and Shahed-129 drones to Russia at the Kashan airfield south of Tehran. Both types of drones are capable of carrying precision-guided missiles.
“We have information that the Iranian government is preparing to provide Russia with several hundred drones, including combat ones,” Sullivan told CNN.
The fact that Iran is smuggling Russia with ammunition and military equipment from Iraq was reported in April by The Guardian. According to the publication, the deliveries include anti-tank missile systems, Brazilian-made multiple launch rocket systems (Astros II) and rocket-propelled grenades. According to the interlocutor of the publication, Moscow was also "gifted" with the Iranian-made Bavar-373 missile system, similar to the Russian S-300. Iran also “returned” the S-300 anti-aircraft missile system to Russia.