In a recent analytical review by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), it was reported that Iran is actively constructing drone production facilities in Belarus and Russia.
The agreements between Iran, Belarus, and Russia are mutually beneficial. For Russia, acquiring Iranian drones will aid its military endeavors, particularly in the context of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. The construction of an Iranian drone factory in Belarus will also alleviate logistical challenges faced by Russia in transporting drones from Iran through the Middle East.
In return, Iran stands to gain significant revenue, which is crucial given its current critical economic conditions. The British Secret Intelligence Service revealed Iran’s pursuit of financial support from Russia in exchange for Iranian drones. This financial boost will help Iran tackle its economic struggles, with inflation rates reaching approximately 47.5 percent.
The cooperation between Iran and Russia goes beyond drone production. There have been discussions about potential exchanges of military assets, including Su-35 fighter jets for drone supplies. However, skepticism has grown among Iranian military officials regarding the possibility of obtaining the Su-35s.
Furthermore, in recent months, Iran reportedly received advanced surveillance software and cyber weapons from Russia in exchange for drones. This has raised concerns among certain parties, with an Israeli military official expressing worry that Russia may be supplying Iran with Western weapons captured in Ukraine.
These developments have drawn international attention, with Ukraine claiming that Iranian engineers have been studying how to convert factories in Homiel, Belarus, into drone production facilities. The Biden administration has also disclosed that Iran is collaborating with Russia to establish a drone manufacturing plant in Yelabuz, Tatarstan, Russia.
Notably, Iran has already taken steps in expanding its drone production capabilities, having opened the Ababil-2 drone factory in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, back in May 2022.