Iran has agreed to assist Russia in manufacturing hundreds of combat drones on Russian soil, The Washington Post reported, citing Western intelligence.

Following the early-November deal, the countries are moving fast to transfer design and components to begin production.

Bolstering Russia’s Weapons Stock

Clinched in Iran, the deal offers to develop an assembly line of low-cost attack drones in Russia to bolster its depleted stock of precision-guided munitions following the months-long military campaign in Ukraine.

The explosives-laden Iranian drones have proven useful for the Russian military in its faltering campaign, enabling it to target critical civilian infrastructures such as power plants and water supplies.

To Help Iran Evade Being Seen Helping Russia

Apart from the clear monetary returns, the deal allows Iran to deny it is helping Moscow following its recently reported drone supply, the outlet wrote.

Tehran officials acknowledged in early November supplying a limited number of drones to Russia after initial denials, saying that the supply predates the Ukraine war

However, an “independent examination” of downed Iranian drones recovered from Ukraine revealed Iranian parts with a manufacture date of February 2022, casting doubt over the Iranian claim.

Official Responses

Iran’s UN mission in New York declined to react to the report, while the Russian press secretary denied any knowledge of the matter.

“No, no way. I don’t know where The Washington Post got this information from, you need to contact them,” Dmitry Peskov told reporters when asked about the report.

Meanwhile, US National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson replied to the outlet via email: “Iran and Russia can lie to the world, but they can’t hide the facts: Tehran is helping kill Ukrainian civilians through the provision of weapons and assisting Russia in its operations. It’s another sign of how isolated both Iran and Russia are.”

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“The United States — with allies and partners — is pursuing all means to expose, deter, and confront Iran’s provision of these munitions and Russia’s use of them against the Ukrainian people. We will continue to provide Ukraine with the critical security assistance it needs to defend itself, including air defense systems.”