By Haider Abbas
The Russia-Ukraine war is now almost a year old. Many powers of the world are slowly putting-up their respective ‘acts’ inside to stir the war. European Union and US, which automatically makes Israel included, are is support of Ukraine with arms, weapons and billions of US Dollars. Russia, the erstwhile superpower Soviet Union, is getting help from Iran, which is rival to US and Israel both. US slaps new sanctions on Russia every other day while Iran had been under US sanctions since decades. Iran is supplying kamikaze (Shaheed 136 and Shaheed 131) drones to Russia while Israel’s Gaia Amir Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) military armored vehicles can be spotted in Ukraine. What can now be easily deduced is that inside the Russia-Ukraine war, an Israel-Iran war is also having a parallel run. Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is a Jew.
It is expected that Israel’s new EAM Eli Cohen, under PM Benjamin Netanyahu government, is to visit Ukraine later this week, and just ahead of it, Zelenskyy has put a set of demands, the first of it is that Israel ought to make an open-denunciation of Russia as an invader of Ukraine, deployment of anti-missile technology which is US backed Iron Dome technology, in Ukraine and a 500 million USD loan. This all is likely to happen as has been signaled by Netanyahu that Israel is considering the Iron Dome technology transfer to Israel, reported News Yahoo 1. Ironically, Pakistan is also claimed to be supplying military shipments to Ukraine which Russia is ‘monitoring closely’. Denis Alipov, Russia ambassador to New Delhi has confirmed it February 6.
Ever since it has hit the headlines that both Iran and Israel is indirectly involved in the war, there has been a constant eyeball to eyeball between the two, both nations almost raring for a war. Israel and US have just concluded their largest joint military exercises on January 23, solely targeted against Iran. As per Defense.Gov 2 ‘ The USS George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group, which participated in the exercise, involved command and control elements, rescue and refueling aircraft and live fire exercises with more than 140 aircraft, and roughly 6,400 U.S. troops alongside more than 1,500 Israeli troops.’
There has been an Israel drone attack on Isfahan ammunition factory in Iran on January 29. It was thwarted by Iran. Israel wanted to destroy Iranian drone productions and not to reach Russia. Iran has vowed revenge. Iran and Russia have also decided to jointly produce the drones as Iranian drones are feasible for Russia solely for their cost-effectiveness. There has also been a Financial Tribune3 report, that Russia has overtaken China and has ‘become the biggest foreign investor in Iran. According to the official, Russia “had brought some $2.7 billion worth of investment to two petroleum projects in Iran’s Western province of Ilam in the past 15 months.” The figure accounts for some 45% of the total foreign investment attracted by Tehran over the period. This is the same period when Russia had been at war and there had been an uninterrupted Iranian support to Russia.
For both Russia and Iran, an enemy’s enemy is a friend. Both the nations have been heavily sanctioned by the US and European Union. Iran has been under the black-list of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) but both the countries have found-ways to steer-clear of sanctions and penalties. US and the West wanted to starve Iran, but out of its resilience Iran has survived. It is also estimated that Iran is very close to making the nuclear bomb, and lately there had been widespread anti-Hijab protests in Iran too, which Iran accuses West to have fomented. On top of it is an all out US-Israel threat of war. Iran perhaps, can only claim to have Russia by its side. This is what has as yet desisted US and Israel to make the final assault. But, the Israel angle ‘to the help’ of Ukraine and Iran with Russia, has certainly aggravated the geo-political situation towards the war. Russia has reciprocated the ‘investment gesture’ after Iran constant supply of drones to Moscow. Iran had acknowledged its supplies of drones to Russia in November last. Russia also has issued denials that it has used Iranian drones against Ukraine, in the name of diplomatic parlance. But, now overtly it is clear that both the US foes have bonded well, that too, amidst all the adversities.
There is also an ‘exclusive report’ in Wall Street Journal 4 on February 5, though it had been very much in the air but only now the details are coming, that ‘Moscow, Tehran Advance Plans for Iranian-Designed Drone Facility in Russia. The two countries are deepening a military partnership that has alarmed the West. Self-destructing drones (have played) a key role in Russia’s strategy to strike in Ukraine. Clues in videos and photos indicate that unmanned aerial vehicles are provided by Iran, despite Moscow’s denials. Moscow and Tehran are moving ahead with plans to build a new factory in Russia that could make at least 6,000 Iranian-designed drones for the war in Ukraine. As part of their emerging military alliance, a high-level Iranian delegation reached Russia on January 5 to visit the planned site for the factory and hammer out details to get the project up-and-running. The two countries are aiming to build a faster drone that could pose new challenges for Ukrainian air defenses.’
The report further informs that concrete plans after the talks are now on the play as ‘the January 5 visit to the Russian town of Yelabuga, about 600 miles east of Moscow. The leaders of both the nations ‘toured the empty site where the two nations are planning to build a new factory that can produce at least 6,000 drones in the coming years. The Iranian delegation was led by Brig. Gen. Abdollah Mehrabi, head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Aerospace Force Research and Self-Sufficiency Jihad Organization, and Ghassem Damavandian, the chief executive of Iran’s Quds Aviation Industry, a key defense manufacturer that the U.S. says is central to developing and building the country’s drones.’ Iran has dismissed WSJ report as sheer-lies, told PressTv.Ir 5 . US has sanctioned 8 Iranians involved in drone manufacturing. However, what also deserves a mention here is that after the Israel attack on Isfahan, Iran, Ukraine had ridiculed Iran, which had made Iran to summon Ukrainian Charge d’ Affairs in Tehran, on January 30.
Iran is now into a fresh row as Nuclear Watchdog Agency- IAEA, in its latest confidential report, leaked by Western Media, has accused Iran that the ‘interconnection between two cascades of advanced IR-6 centrifuges at Fordow had been changed in a way that was “substantially different” from what Iran had declared,’ reported Al Jazeera 6 . This has made US, France, Germany and United Kingdom to issue a joint-statement, as per State,Gov 7 that ‘Iran has also offered no credible answer yet to the IAEA’s outstanding questions as part of the IAEA’s safeguards investigation.’ IAEA Chief is to visit Iran this month and has warned Iran to have amassed enough material for ‘several nuclear weapons’. Iran has slammed the IAEA report as ‘unprofessional’ reports AA 8 . Israel on the other hand is claimed to have a nuclear stockpile yet there is never a hullabaloo on it.
What however, is also coming out is that Israel plans to desist (for namesake) from the Russia-Ukraine war, as Russia has sought from Israel to not to ‘provoke it’ by sending weapons to Ukraine. As according to Axios 9 Israel is undergoing a policy-review over the Ukraine war. But Israel and US are same, as US President Joseph Biden has already asked Israel to provide its Old Hawk anti-aircraft missile to Ukraine, and which, is all likely to happen in the coming days. Israel might transfer its weapons through any third party too.
A new dangerous world is being awaited. The war goes on unabated. For Ukraine it has been a minting-money-machine too as many of its ministers have been accused of massive-corruption. Zelenskyy has removed his defence minister Oleksii Reznikov over a corruption scandal. How will this war take new turns, particularly after Eli Cohen visit, is all yet to unfold. Israel (and US) have always stood that there would be no nuclear Iran. Whatever it takes.
The writer is a former UP State Information Commissioner and writes on international politics.