By Haider Abbas
The Russia-Ukraine war is now into almost about 250 days and it is getting more and more complex, by every passing day, as US and NATO have stood behind Ukraine from the very first day, with sanctions and weapons supply etc against Russia, while Russia too has been grooming its old-friends, and surely and certainly, Iran has been a long-time-Russia’s friend. Russia helped Iran supported Bashar Al Asad government in Syria and also gave a helping hand to Iran’s support to Houthis rebels in Yemen. There is also no doubt that Iran-Russian bonhomie stands for more than around half-a-century, primarily also due to Iran’s animosity for US-which is shared by Russia in the same vein. Syrian mercenaries have already been fighting by the side of Russia.
In the last couple of hours the entire world media has been agog with reports that Iran has been supplying its Kamikaze aka Shaheed (suicide) drones to Russia which it is raining on Ukraine, apart from it, there are accusations that Iranian army is present in Crimea and fighting alongside Russia. Crimea had been retaken by Russia in 2014, after the disintegration of Soviet Union in 1989. Russia has been vehement into denying any such Iranian involvement.
Russian Permanent Envoy to UN Vassily Nebenzi, took the occasion to say that ‘Ukraine today and its Western backers and trying to publicize yet another fake news about the alleged supplies to Russia of Iranian drones in violation of Resolution 2231. We reject any attempts to involve UN Secretariat in this dirty undertaking.’ This reaction was obvious as Moscow accused West for peddling the fake-news leading to a massive war of words at the UN during which England, France, and Germany (E3) urged UN to probe Russia for using Iranian drones. UN Resolution 2231 prohibits Iran from supplies of missiles until October 2023.
France, through its Permanent Envoy at UN, Nicholas De Riviere, took the lead and called Iran to immediately cease all forms of support to Russian war efforts. He said that ‘it is now well documented that Russian armed forces are using Iranian drones in Ukraine, notably for indiscriminate shelling of civilian infrastructure. Iran provision of this equipment to Russia is a violation of Resolution 2231 of UN (endorsing the 2015 nuclear deal), ’ reported Reuters. Iran slammed the demand of the E3 calling it all ‘false and baseless’, reported Al Jazeera . This E3 stand came exactly after the US had said that it has “abundant evidence” that Russia is using Iranian drones to strike Ukraine, through its State Department spokesperson Ned Price, reported CNN . “The United States began warning in July that Iran was planning to transfer UAVs to Russia for use in Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine, and we now have abundant evidence that these UAVs are being used to strike Ukrainian civilians and critical civilian infrastructure,” Price said.
The big question is why US, NATO and more precisely E3 trying to entangle Iran into the Russian-Ukrainian quagmire? It is for the sake of only Israel, which has been restricting itself to ‘humanitarian aid only’ to Ukraine, though its outgoing PM Benjamin Netanyahu has warned Russia to supply weapons to Ukraine, and that Israel and Iran do not see ‘eye-to-eye’ to each other. US and E3 have always supported Israel over Iran, moreover, US has also been instrumental into forging an alliance of Kingdom and Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Israel against Iran, but will this alliance stay? Despite the fact, that of late, KSA Crown Prince Muhammed Bin Salman and US President Joseph Biden ‘differences’ have also come out into open. UK has initiated fresh sanctions on Iran, which had been reeling under US sanctions for around five-decades. More European nations like France and Germany are soon to slap sanctions on Iran too.
The another big question is why would Russia seek Iranian drones when it has been itself a super-power of its time? It is obvious for the price constraints as Russian drones (particularly Orions) are worth billions of US dollars while Iranian drones are around 20 times cost-effective, and Russia wants to keep its arsenal intact as war is not to cease anytime soon. The Iranian drones like ‘Fateh 110’ aka Victory 110 (which is an auspicious figure by the name of son-in-law of Prophet Muhammed Hazrat Ali Murtuza) and ‘Zulfiqar’ named after the sword of Hazrat Ali Murtuza have been under scrutiny by the world press. This supply of drones, it is alleged, has been expedited more aggressively since Iranian Vice President Muhammed Mokhber visited Moscow on October 6.
How will this all have repercussions in India? As very soon a resolution against Iran is to be tabled at UN? Will India vote or abstain? It may be here referred that India had made a long catapult when India had voted against Iran at UN resolution by IAEA to stop ‘uranium enrichment’ in 2009, and with a new geo-political scenario ‘built-up’, India might this time not hazard an ‘abstain’ but vote against Iran, as E3 and US have been ‘a bit lenient’ on India for India’s overall reliance on Russian weaponry etc, but will not buy any agreement on Iran, and moreover, India does not have any such stakes over energy/military supplies from Iran etc. India here might invite some ire from Russia but India has as yet remained neutral to both Russia and US and has been able to buy Russian oil at a very low-cost since February when the war broke.
The other factor which assumes significance is that Iran might be cruising ‘very-close’ to make a nuclear blast, which Israel and US would never see it happen, and that this would happen only after Russian unstinted support comes to Iran. Hence, Iran has sent its troops, with also a definite plan that Iran wants to romp home a message that it trumped Ukraine after Ukraine looses the war with Russia. Iranian domestic politics, has of late, been marred by anti-Hijab protests and once Russia is to win, Iran would try to find a jackpot as it would then be able to placate its public to have won a war, against US and NATO backed Ukraine.
However, how would India streamline its prospects is for all to see as India had been a long-friend of Iran too, with civilizational-links, which has been proved by Iran quite often, as Iran always stood by Russia and a pro-India stand against Pakistan, when Russia had taken over Afghanistan (1979-89). But, India also have grave concerns over China which is ‘together’ with Russia, and there is a war brewing over Taiwan between US and China too, where obviously India finds itself with US. Will India go the US-way over Iran, given the US and Israel hostility against Iran, once after the UN resolution against Iran is to be tabled is what is to be seen? India is a non-permanent member at UNSC.
The writer is a former UP State Information Commissioner and writes on international politics.