The Wall Street Journal, citing its sources, reports that Moscow and Tehran are close to completing plans to build a plant for the production of Iranian drones in Russia.
According to the interlocutors of the publication, on January 5, an Iranian delegation visited an empty site in the Russian city of Yelabuga in Tatarstan, where the construction of such a plant is expected.
According to the publication, the Iranian delegation was headed by the head of the Aerospace Forces Research Organization and a representative of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, as well as the chief executive of the Iranian company Quds Aviation Industry, the country's key defense manufacturer.
According to a senior official, Moscow wants to build a faster kamikaze drone to overcome Ukrainian air defenses. According to plans, the new plant will be able to produce at least 6,000 drones, without specifying for how long. The project itself is part of a $1 billion deal between the two countries.
In November, British television channel Sky News reported that a Russian military aircraft had secretly delivered €140 million to Iran in exchange for drones. According to these data, on August 20, at the Tehran airport, the Russian side handed over to Iran the cash delivered by the Il-76 transport aircraft. In addition, US and British weapons seized in Ukraine were handed over to Iran, including NLAW and Javelin anti-tank systems and Stinger MANPADS. So the Russian side paid for the delivery of the first batch of 160 Iranian unmanned aerial vehicles. This batch included 100 Shahed-136 kamikaze drones and six large Mohajer-6 UAVs.
On November 8, Ukrainian intelligence reported that Iran supplied its drones to Russia after the start of the war in Ukraine. This is evidenced by the details of the drones, which were manufactured later than February 24, 2022.
Russia regularly shells Ukraine with Iranian Shahed-136s, disguising them as its own drones with the domestic name "Geran-2". At the same time, both Russia and Iran deny the supply of drones. To prove that they are Iranian, Ukraine invited UN experts. However, the Russian Federation began to blackmail the UN with the rejection of the "grain deal" if the organization's experts decide to investigate the drones. In October, Israeli President Yitzhak Herzog showed US officials photos confirming that Russia was using the Shahed-136 in the war in Ukraine. He compared photos of the engines of Iranian ammunition and drones shot down in Ukraine - they turned out to be similar.
On November 5, Iran admitted for the first time that it supplied drones to Russia, but, as Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said, the drones were delivered in small numbers and a few months before the war.