Iran said to have supplied Russia with large shipment of ammunition

Two ships tracked leaving Iranian port and arriving in Russian dock in January; security source tells Sky News 100 million bullets and 300,000 shells on board

Screen capture from undated video of Russian artillery firing. (YouTube screenhsot; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Screen capture from undated video of Russian artillery firing. (YouTube screenhsot; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Iran has supplied Russia with a large shipment of ammunition including millions of bullets and hundreds of thousands of shells, Sky News reported Wednesday, citing an unnamed security source.

“Iran sent two cargo ships to the combat zone in Ukraine, carrying approximately 200 new shipping containers that contained ammunition for the Russian fighting in Ukraine,” the source said.

Tracking data showed two Russian-flagged ships, the Musa Jalil and the Begey, departing an Iranian port in January and arriving later that month in Russia, according to the report.

On board were around 100 million bullets and 300,000 shells, the source said.

“Russia pays for the ammunition in cash and by doing so, bypasses the western sanctions on it, ignoring the sanctions on Iran,” according to the source.

The alleged shipment included bullets of various calibers for pistols, assault rifles, machine guns and heavy machine guns.

According to the source, there were also 40mm grenades for grenade launchers, 107mm anti-tank rockets, various sizes of mortar shells, artillery rockets, shells for armored vehicles, and 10,000 flak jackets.

“Russia continues to use Iran as a ‘rear base,'” the source said.

The ammunition is needed to restock Russia’s own supplies that it is rapidly burning through as it pours fire on Ukrainian forces. Russia’s invasion of its neighbor, launched last February, has run into fierce Ukrainian resistance supported by weapons and ammunition from Western nations. The initial Russian advance has largely ground to a halt or been pushed back in some areas.

A Ukrainian brigadier has said Russia is firing between 60,000 to 70,000 artillery shells a day as it pounds the defenders’ positions, Sky reported, though US officials put the figure at a maximum of 20,000.

Sky noted that it was not able to confirm the size of the shipment and that an expert told the network the alleged volume sounded high.

However, the source was confident that “two hundred containers on two ships are capable of carrying this amount of munitions.”

Data from the MarineTraffic tracker showed both ships in the Iranian port of Amirabad on the Caspian Sea on 9 January and then setting sail the next day.

On January 12, both ships stopped for unknown reasons off the coast of Turkmenistan for two days and then continued on their journey, reaching the Russian port of Astrakhan on January 27. The ships then left the port on February 3.

Ukraine’s ambassador to the UK told Sky it was no surprise that Iran was supplying Russia and he expected more support to come.

“They — allegedly the second biggest army in the world — [are] running out of resources, which is a great result for the Ukrainian armed forces,” Ambassador Vadym Prystaiko said.

He said sanctions on Russia were hampering its ability to resupply but “we still have actively to pursue the Iranians and the rest of these regimes to stop the supply to Russians to fuel this war in Ukraine.”

The owner of the two ships did not respond to a Sky request for information. The Russian and Iranian defense ministries would also not comment to the network.

Iran is already accused of supplying Russia with military drones that have been used extensively in Ukraine.

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