Iranian weapons-trafficking networks are reportedly helping to smuggle munitions and military hardware sourced from Iraq to Russia for its military campaign in Ukraine.
The Guardian quoted Iranian-backed Iraqi militias and regional intelligence services Tuesday as saying that the undercover networks were used in the past month to supply rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), anti-tank missiles and Brazilian-designed rocket launcher systems.
The RPGs and anti-tank missiles were in the possession of Hashd al-Shaabi, the most powerful Shiite militia umbrella group, and were transported to Iran through the Shalamcheh border crossing since March 26, where they were received by the Iranian military and taken on to Russia by sea, a commander of the militia branch that controls the crossing told the British newspaper.
A source within Ḥashd al-Shaabi said the organization also sent in pieces two Brazilian-designed Astros II rocket launcher systems, known in Iraq as the license-built version Sajil-60, to Iran on April 1.
The equipment was loaded on three cargo ships – two Russian flagged and one Iranian flagged – and crossed the Caspian Sea from Iran’s port of Bandar Anzali to Astrakhan in southern Russia.
A source who helped organize the transport said the Iranian authorities had also donated an Iranian-made Bavar 373 missile system, which is similar to Russia’s S-300, to Moscow. Tehran also returned an S-300 to Russia, the source said.
Last Friday, The Telegraph reported that Russia is running out of some weapons because critical parts were made in Ukraine, including Kh-55 nuclear capable cruise missiles that are also used by Iran and China.