As the war in Ukraine surpasses its first-anniversary, political pundits across the West are discussing the degree to which we should support the Ukrainian people and their fight against Russia’s military forces. Yet, for all the debate around military aid for Ukraine and economic sanctions against Moscow, one aspect that is not being addressed by Ukraine’s powerful allies is Russia’s support from the Islamic Republic of Iran.
In the invasion last winter, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei repeated Putin’s justification for wanting to invade Ukraine during a televised speech in which he blamed the crisis on US and NATO policies. Last summer he offered staunch support for the former KGB official’s decision to invade Kyiv, stating that the West was working to stop the growth of an “independent and strong” Russia.
In the ensuing months, Iran shipped several plane loads of military combat drones to Russia, which Ukrainian forces continue to shoot down today. In addition to military drones, the ayatollahs in Tehran have provided surface-to-surface missiles to aid Moscow’s depleted military forces and target civilian zones in Ukraine.
The Islamic Republic’s Revolutionary Guards Corps has also sent military trainers to Russian-occupied Crimea, training Russian soldiers to deploy the hundreds of military drones sent by Tehran.
The mullahs in Tehran have also aided Kremlin officials in circumventing international sanctions through front companies. Both countries have decided to build a new transcontinental trade route from the eastern edge of Europe to the Indian Ocean, allowing for oil shipments and other economic and military resources.
In return for supporting their Eastern European allies, the regime in Tehran has gained American and NATO weapons left behind by Ukrainian forces on the battlefield and obtained by Russian troops, which have transported the equipment to Iran. In exchange for aiding Moscow in its war efforts, The mullahs in Iran have received Russian assistance in their crackdown on protesters, with Russia providing resources, advisors, manpower, and assessments on the protests.
Even more concerning is that Iran has sought Russian assistance in acquiring additional nuclear material for its atomic program.
As a result of Putin’s reliance on Iran for military and economic assistance, the former KGB officer has been able to support his depleting military force and extend the invasion for the foreseeable future. Simultaneously, the support Iran has sent and received from Moscow has allowed the Ayatollahs to silence dissent, strengthen its nuclear and defense capabilities, and expand its influence.
What has the US done to prevent Tehran from aiding Moscow? Apart from issuing condemnations and sanctions against Iranian and Chinese firms and individuals involved in creating and transporting drones to Russia, nothing significantly damaging would change the mullahs’ minds from seriously rethinking their actions.
To prevent Iran from aiding Putin and prolonging this war, the US must bring crippling military force targeting drone and missile plants along with enacting targeted neutralization campaigns against Revolutionary Guards Corps commanders which assist Moscow’s forces in drone usage. Just as Israel led a covert operation against an Iranian missile and drone plant, the US should aid and encourage more covert operations with the Israeli state to target not only these facilities but also Iranian cargo ships transporting military equipment to Moscow.
A military strike on Iran’s underground nuclear facilities would also cripple Iran’s support for Russia, putting the Islamic Republic in a state of shock and demonstrating that their support for an international adversary has severe consequences.
While some would say these actions would create more conflict and more chaos, the current minimal response towards Iran has only emboldened the regime to continue supporting Moscow without consequences. These military options would assist Ukrainian forces and show the Iranian resistance that America stands with them. If America does not take action, the war in Ukraine will continue, with Iran and Russia only strengthening each other.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.