Iranian-backed militias in Iraq are smuggling weapons to arm Russia in its invasion of Ukraine, according to a Tuesday report in the Guardian.
RPGs, anti-tank missiles, and Brazilian-designed rocket launcher systems have made their way from Iraq to Ukraine, according to the report, which cited members of the Iranian-backed militias as well as regional intelligence services familiar with the matter.
An Iranian-made Bavar 373 missile system was also donated to Moscow by Iranian authorities, a source who helped organize the transfer told The Guardian.
RPGs and anti-tank missiles belonging to the Hashd al-Shaabi Shia militia group were transported from Iraq to Iran on March 26 where they were collected by Russian authorities who then shipped them to Russia by sea, a commander of the militia branch that controls the crossing told the British daily.
Hashd al-Shaabi also dismantled Brazilian-designed Astros II rocket launcher systems on April 1 for shipment to Russian forces.
“We don’t care where the heavy weapons go [because we don’t need them at the moment],” one Hashd al-Shaabi source told The Guardian. “Whatever is anti-US makes us happy.”
The reported weapons transfers represent the latest progression in Russia’s relations with Iran as Moscow finds itself increasingly isolated and struggling to keep up on the battlefield as Western sanctions continue to pile up.
The smugglings also risk hampering US support for the Iraqi government and army, which have hosted American troops since 2003.
US officials said that Russia has also been leaning on China to send its own military aid for use in the Ukraine invasion, according to The Guardian.
Ukraine has also accused Georgia of helping Russia receive sanctioned military equipment.
Georgian special services received a directive from their government not to interfere with smuggling channels from East Asia, Kyiv’s intelligence services said in a statement last week.
The pro-Russian government in Tbilisi denied the accusation.