How does Iran transport its drones to Russia?

Ukraine's Special Operations Forces claim to show the route used by Iran to deliver its drones to Russia, in a recent report.

 A drone is launched during a military exercise in an undisclosed location in Iran, in this handout image obtained on August 25, 2022. (photo credit:  Iranian Army/WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Handout via REUTERS)
A drone is launched during a military exercise in an undisclosed location in Iran, in this handout image obtained on August 25, 2022.
(photo credit: Iranian Army/WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Handout via REUTERS)

In recent weeks, Ukraine and the West have been accusing Tehran of supplying Moscow with Iranian-made drones. A report released on Thursday by Sprotyv, a website affiliated with the Ukrainian Special Operations Forces, claims to show the route used by Iran to deliver its drones to Russia.

The report claims that Iran uses four airlines, three of which are state-owned and one that is affiliated with the Iranian regime, as well as naval transports using vessels of companies affiliated with the IRGC.

The three state-owned airlines are Iran Air, which is controlled by the Iranian Infrastructure Ministry, Pouya Air, which is part of the IRGC, and Saha Airlines, which is part of the Iranian Air Force. The other airline allegedly involved is Mahan Air, an Iranian airline that in the past faced sanctions by the United States Department of Treasury.

The report also claims that the sea routes are going through the Caspian Sea as well as others. No less than 200 disassembled drones are expected to arrive in Russia by sea during November.

Ukraine's actions against the Russia-Iran arms trade

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of using Iranian drones to attack Ukraine's energy sector, in a recent speech to the Ukrainian people.

 Parts of an unmanned aerial vehicle, what Ukrainian authorities consider to be an Iranian made suicide drone Shahed-136 are seen at a site of Russian strike in Kharkiv (credit: REUTERS) Parts of an unmanned aerial vehicle, what Ukrainian authorities consider to be an Iranian made suicide drone Shahed-136 are seen at a site of Russian strike in Kharkiv (credit: REUTERS)

On November 1, the Main Directorate of Intelligence of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said that "since September 13, when the [Russian] occupiers first used Iranian kamikaze drones against Ukraine, the Ukrainian defense forces have shot down more than 300 such UAVs."

These announcements came after the ministry issued a public notice requesting information regarding the supplying of Iranian weapons to the Russian Federation.

"We ask to provide any information that will help to determine logistical routes of the supply of the Iranian weapon and to identify the specific persons responsible for the supply," it said in the announcement.