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Russia-Iran Defense Deal Raises Concerns Amidst Ongoing Geopolitical Tensions

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In a move that has heightened tensions and raised eyebrows in international circles, Russia has reportedly agreed to send advanced fighter jets and attack helicopters to Iran. This development, though yet to be publicly confirmed by the Kremlin, is causing concern in the United States, with officials expressing worry over the expanding defense cooperation between Moscow and Tehran.

According to reports from Iranian media outlets, plans have been finalized for Russia to deliver a substantial number of Su-35 fighter jets, Mil Mi-28 attack helicopters, and Yakovlev Yak-130 jet trainers to Iran. The deal, if confirmed, marks a significant boost to Iran’s air force capabilities and could be the first instance of Tehran purchasing fighter aircraft since the 1990s.

The reported agreement comes amid increasing unease in the US over what officials describe as growing defense collaboration between Russia and Iran. A top White House official recently voiced concerns, stating that the “expanding military partnership” is detrimental to Ukraine and the broader Middle East region. The US has been critical of Moscow’s involvement in the conflict in Ukraine and is closely monitoring developments in its defense relationships.

While the Kremlin has not officially acknowledged the deal, the semi-official Tasnim News Agency reported that delivering these advanced military assets would contribute to reinforcing Iran’s military capabilities. The Su-35s, in particular, are expected to dispel suspicions and showcase the depth of cooperation between the two nations.

The White House National Security Council has expressed worry over this deepening military collaboration. John Kirby, a spokesperson for the National Security Council, emphasized the harm this expanded defense partnership could pose to Kyiv, Tehran’s neighbors, and the international community at large. He highlighted Iran’s prior support to Russia, including providing artillery ammunition, guided aerial bombs, and drones, some of which have been used in the conflict in Ukraine.

The concern is not limited to the equipment already supplied; there are fears that Iran might extend its support to the Russian military by providing ballistic missiles. Kirby stressed that Russia, in return for Iran’s support in the Ukraine conflict, has been offering unprecedented defense cooperation, including in missiles, electronics, and air defense systems.

In response to Iran’s role in supporting Russia’s actions, the US has implemented various sanctions, working with partners like the European Union to expand the scope of sanctions authorities. The objective is to counterbalance Iran’s growing military capabilities fueled by Russian collaboration.

The Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank, indicated that the transfer of Russian aircraft to Iran might take several months to materialize. Analysts emphasized that Iranian leaders have been signaling their expectation of receiving advanced aircraft from Russia since late 2022.

The geopolitical context surrounding the Russia-Iran defense deal is noteworthy, particularly in light of their coordination on issues such as the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. The Institute for the Study of War reported that Iranian and Russian officials have engaged in discussions and cooperation regarding the Israel-Hamas war, aligning their political stances.

As tensions escalate and defense partnerships evolve, the international community, particularly the United States, will be closely monitoring the implications of this significant military agreement between Russia and Iran.

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