Russia is preparing to provide Iran with Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets in the near future, according to a Saturday report citing Western intelligence officials.
The report by Channel 12 said the deal could include as many as 24 jets that were originally intended for Egypt, in a deal that the United States thwarted.
This left Moscow looking for a new potential buyer, which it has reportedly found in Tehran. The report comes after Iranian media said in September that Tehran was weighing such a purchase.
Intelligence indicated that Iranian pilots were already using the jets for training, the report said, without elaborating.
Washington has described an extensive relationship between Iran and Russia involving military equipment, especially since Russian troops invaded Ukraine in February.
Both countries are targeted by stringent sanctions — Iran over its nuclear program and Russia for its actions in Ukraine.
Earlier on Saturday, a senior Ukrainian official pushed for the “liquidation” of Iranian factories producing arms for Russia and the “arrest of suppliers.”
Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted that Tehran is planning to increase its supply of drones and missiles to the Kremlin, despite international sanctions on firms and entities involved in the transfer of weapons to Russia.
Reports indicate that Tehran has so far supplied Russian troops with some 1,700 offensive drones and plans on supplying 300 more in the near future.
Iranian-manufactured drones supplied to Russia have played a “central role” in attacks on civilian targets in Ukraine, Britain’s Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office said last week.
Mossad chief David Barnea cautioned on Thursday that Iran is looking to expand its supply of advanced weapons to Russia.
Barnea said Mossad was “still warning about Iran’s future and intentions, which it is trying to keep secret.”
Earlier this month, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) said Russia was also looking to help Iran, which could pose a threat to US allies in the region.
“What’s beginning to emerge is at least the beginnings of a full-fledged defense partnership between Russia and Iran, with the Iranians supplying drones to the Russians, which are killing Ukrainian civilians as we speak today,” CIA chief William Burns said in an interview with PBS.
AFP contributed to this report.