Russia paid Iran for its suicide drones by sending a plane full of $140 million in cash and captured Western weapons, report says

  • Russia paid for Iranian drones with 140 million Euros cash and captured Western weapons, per Sky News.

  • Both countries have denied trading for drones, but a wealth of evidence contradicts this.

  • The Western weapons could be reverse-engineered by Iran, Sky's source said.

Russia sent 140 million Euros ($140 million) in cash, along with a stash of of Western weapons, by plane to Iran as payment for a shipment of drones, according to Sky News.

A security source, whom the outlet did not identify, said Russia made the secret flight on August 20 after reports emerged that it received dozens of deadly unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

In exchange, the source said, Russia sent a British NLAW anti-tank missile, a US Javelin anti-tank missile and a Stinger anti-aircraft missile. Those weapons somehow "fell into Russian hands" on their way to Ukraine as military aid, the source told Sky.

A further drone deal worth $200 million was also agreed between the two countries in recent days, Sky reported.

The Western weapons Iran reportedly received could be instrumental for Iran's own weapons development systems.

Iran, under successive waves of international sanctions, develops and manufactures much of its own military hardware in isolation.

This portable Western-developed equipment it was said to receive has proved invaluable to the Ukrainian defense since the early invasion, as Stavros Atlamazoglou reported previously for Insider.

But, the source told Sky, the captured Western weapons will now "probably be reverse-engineered and used in future wars."

Insider was unable to independently verify the claims. Russia's Ministry of Defense did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

Sky News' source provided what seemed to be satellite images of two Ilyushin IL-76 military cargo planes arriving at and departing Mehrabad International Airport in Tehran early on August 20.

Iran supplied 166 drones in that exchange, Sky reported. This comprised 100 Shahed-136 drones, 60 smaller Shahed-131 drones and six Mohajer-6 drones — all known as "kamikaze" or "suicide" drones because they detonate and are destroyed on impact.

Both countries have denied reports that Iran is supplying Russia with drones for use on the battlefield in Ukraine. Only on November 5 did Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian admit that it sent "a limited number of drones," claiming that happened months before the war in Ukraine, as Al-Jazeera reported.

In mid-October a Russian defense official was caught on a hot mic saying it was an open secret that the Kremlin had indeed imported Russian drones.

Despite the denials, US officials came to the conclusion that on August 19, a Russian cargo plane left a Tehran airport carrying dozens of Iranian drones, as The Washington Post reported.

Sky News' source said they were aware of at least five Russian aircraft transporting drones from Iran since August 20.

Further Western assessments, as well as photographic evidence, demonstrate Russia is using the drones in its wave of attacks across Ukrainian cities.

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