What will Russian President Vladimir Putin speak on Tuesday in Tehran? If official statements from both countries are to be believed, handing over Iranian-made (combat) drones to Russia was not on the agenda.
Last week, the United States said such deliveries were being prepared. According to Jake Sullivan, national security adviser to US President Joe Biden, the Iranian government is “preparing to provide Russia with up to several hundred unmanned aerial vehicles,” including those capable of carrying weapons, “within a accelerated”.
“No,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in response to a reporter’s question. Drone delivery would not be discussed, he said. Iranian Foreign Minister Hussein Amirabdollahian recently assured Ukraine that his country would not supply drones to Russia. He said the US claims were baseless and aimed at achieving specific political goals.
DW’s Kersten Knipp
However, the US said again over the weekend that such plans exist. According to Sullivan, there are indications that a Russian delegation recently visited an airfield in central Iran at least twice to learn about the Islamic Republic’s ambitious drone program and to look at weapons-capable drones .
When it comes to opposing claims, however, Russia and Iran have a problem: There is little reason to trust official statements from either country. Even shortly before the attack on Ukraine, top Russian government officials denied any such plans, lying in an unprecedented manner. Iran’s removal last month of two International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) surveillance cameras from a uranium enrichment facility in a dispute over the country’s nuclear program indicates a style that is not strong in trust, also because the data stored in the cameras has not been sent to the IAEA since the beginning of 2021. In this sense, what the two countries say will not be discussed during the visit from Putin to Tehran is not worth much.
Enemies of democracy
Iran supplying Russia with drones seems plausible for one particular reason: both closely aligned regimes are fierce opponents of any form of political freedom and the rule of law. The idea of citizens getting information regardless of sources they consider reliable is as horrifying to them as the idea of citizens speaking their minds, especially in public. The fervor and arbitrariness with which both states resort to repressing dissidents and critics is reflected in their ranking on the World Justice Project’s 2021 Rule of Law Index. Russia was ranked 101 out of a total of 139 countries, and Iran was ranked 119. The two countries also have similar rankings in Transparency International’s 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index: Russia ranked 136 out of 180 countries, Iran 150.
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On the international stage, both countries also present themselves as enemies of democracy and the rule of law determined to do almost anything: in Syria, both support the dictator Bashar al-Assad, whose regime has been responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths since 2011. uprisings, with many people horribly murdered in state torture prisons. Russia and Iran did not hesitate to stand by this regime and fight its opponents with a vengeance.
Ukraine, Syria: similar tactics
It seems entirely likely that the talks in Tehran will also be about drones, including combat drones. Both states think along the same lines, which means fighting a policy of liberalization and the rule of law, to ensure that the norms of an enlightened society are subject only to the law (and not to arbitrariness and paternalism) do not get carried away. neither in Syria nor in Ukraine. As states, Iran and Russia have no soft power, nothing remotely appealing. All these states have left is bare violence to safeguard their rule.
This article was originally written in German.