June 28, 2023 | Flash Brief

Iran Pledges Support for Putin After Failed Mutiny

June 28, 2023 | Flash Brief

Iran Pledges Support for Putin After Failed Mutiny

Latest Developments

The chief of the Iranian armed forces general staff, Maj. Gen. Mohammad Bagheri, invited Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to visit Iran during a phone call on June 28. According to a readout by the Iranian state-affiliated Mehr News Agency, Shoigu briefed Bagheri on the situation in Russia after the weekend’s 36-hour mutiny by the Wagner paramilitary group, led by businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin. Both emphasized the expansion of military relations between the two countries, which are subject to heavy international sanctions.  

Iran’s police commander, Brig. Gen. Ahmadreza Radan, traveled to Moscow on June 27 to hold talks with Russian police and National Guard officials. Mehr News Agency reported that Radan and Russian National Guard Commander Gen. Viktor Zolotov signed a memorandum of understanding to strengthen cooperation between the two forces. 

Expert Analysis

“The mutiny has exposed Putin’s weakness, and the United States should capitalize on the moment to convey Putin’s unreliability to his allies, telling them the truth about Putin’s diminished strength and security failures. Washington needs to warn them of the risks associated with tying their fortunes to a fading autocrat. It’s also high time for the U.S. government to learn that Russian and Iranian leaders only understand the language of power. For them, kindness is weakness, and our weakness emboldens them.” Ivana Stradner, FDD Research Fellow 

“Don’t be surprised by the visit of Iran’s sanctioned police chief to Moscow. America’s authoritarian adversaries are tightening ties and busy learning from one another about how to control restive populations. The Islamic Republic has never shied away from publicly standing with allied dictators facing domestic pressure. Expect Tehran to use the opportunity to deepen its engagement with Moscow and further cement its place as an all-weather partner to Russia.” Behnam Ben Taleblu, FDD Senior Fellow 

Iran Backs Putin

On June 26, in the immediate aftermath of the rebellion that saw Wagner forces march within 120 miles of Moscow before turning back, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi called Russian President Vladimir Putin and offered his “full support,” according to the Kremlin. Iran and Russia’s bilateral relationship has grown significantly since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, with Tehran providing Moscow with diplomatic and military backing.   

Iran-Russia Military Cooperation

Iran’s provision to Russia of suicide drones and desperately needed artillery shells and ammunition has helped prolong and bolster Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In April, The Wall Street Journal reported that Russian cargo ships carried more than 300,000 artillery shells and a million rounds of ammunition from Iran through the Caspian Sea. Earlier this year, Moscow and Tehran moved forward with plans to construct a factory to produce Iranian Shahed-136 drones — which Moscow rebrands as the Geran-2 — near the Russian town of Yelabuga. 

In return, Russia is helping Iran advance its cyber warfare and digital surveillance capabilities by providing it with advanced digital surveillance software, according to The Wall Street Journal. The software enables the regime in Tehran to hack into phones and other digital systems used by dissidents and other adversaries. 

Related Analysis

How Congress Should Respond to an Interim Iran Deal,” by Richard Goldberg and Behnam Ben Taleblu

After Wagner Group’s failed coup, spread the word: Putin is vulnerable,” by Ivana Stradner

 “Biden’s Renewed Push for Iran Deal May Help Russia in Ukraine,” FDD Flash Brief


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