February 24, 2024 | Flash Brief

U.S. Sanctions Iranian Entities for Helping Russia Build Drones

February 24, 2024 | Flash Brief

U.S. Sanctions Iranian Entities for Helping Russia Build Drones

Latest Developments

The U.S. Treasury Department unveiled new sanctions on February 23 against hundreds of entities complicit in Russia’s war in Ukraine, including a network of Iranian entities that help Russia procure and produce Iranian drones. The move comes a day before the second anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and as a response to the killing of Russian dissident Aleksey Navalny. According to a Treasury statement, Russia and Iran’s Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL) cooperated “to finance and produce Iranian-designed one-way attack” drones at a newly established facility in Russia’s Alabuga economic zone. Russia has used Iranian drones against critical infrastructure in Ukraine and other civilian targets.

On February 22, the White House also warned of additional sanctions on Iran in the coming days if Tehran moves forward with providing Moscow with ballistic missiles. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said that the sanctions will be “swift” and “severe” and will come in coordination with U.S. “allies and partners.” Kirby said that the United States does not yet have confirmation that Iran has moved any missiles to Russia, but “we have no reason to believe that they will not follow through.”

Expert Analysis

“Waiting to sanction missile manufacturers and proliferators until after Iran sends Russia ballistic missiles is the pinnacle of folly and emblematic of Washington’s reactive stance to so many crises around the world. Clearly, Iran does not feel deterred and continues its drone sales to Russia. This far-reaching sanctions package is an attempt to catch up and achieve parity with Russia, Iran, and other sanctions-busting efforts nearly two years after Russia’s war against Ukraine began.” Behnam Ben Taleblu, FDD Senior Fellow

“Iran continues to aid and abet Russia’s war of imperial aggression against Ukraine. Shahed drones, initially provided directly by Iran and now produced at the Alabuga facility in Russia, have helped Moscow attack Ukrainian critical infrastructure and military targets and deplete Ukraine’s stocks of interceptor missiles. If Iran indeed provides Russia with a substantial number of ballistic missiles, it will significantly expand Russia’s long-range strike capacity while stretching Ukraine’s air defenses. This is all the more reason why Congress should stop stalling on passing vital aid funding for Ukraine.” John Hardie, Deputy Director of FDD’s Russia Program

Reports Russia Has Acquired Missiles

Citing six sources, Reuters reported on February 21 that Moscow had already received “around 400 missiles” from Iran, including “many from the Fateh-110 family of short-range ballistic weapons, such as the Zolfaghar.” The alleged deliveries remain unconfirmed, and there has been no documented use of Iranian missiles in Ukraine. After finalizing the deal late last year, Iran reportedly began shipping the missiles to Russia in early January.

Iranian Drones in Ukraine

An investigation by The Washington Post in August revealed a three-stage plan by a state-owned Russian company to produce Iran’s Shahed-136 suicide drones — which Russia renamed Geran-2 — in Alabuga. The factory plans on producing 6,000 drones by September 2025.

Iran Has Already Sent Missiles to Russia, Report Says,” FDD Flash Brief

Russia Acquires North Korean Missiles, Eyes Iranian Missiles,” FDD Flash Brief

Russia Plans to Locally Produce 6,000 Iranian Suicide Droznes,” FDD Flash Brief

Arsenal: Assessing the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Ballistic Missile Program,” by Behnam Ben Taleblu


Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran Missiles Iran Sanctions Iran-backed Terrorism Russia Sanctions and Illicit Finance Ukraine