Russia 'uses weapons smuggled from Iraq' as Ukraine campaign falters: report

Russia 'uses weapons smuggled from Iraq' as Ukraine campaign falters: report
Russia is reportedly receiving weapons from Iranian-backed militias in Iraq as its campaign in Ukraine falters and western sanctions wreak havoc on its economy.
3 min read
12 April, 2022
Russia is reportedly receiving arms from Iran-backed militias in Iraq for use in Ukraine [Getty]

Russia is reportedly receiving munitions and arms from Iraq to aid its faltering campaign in Ukraine, The Guardian reported sources in Iranian backed militias in the country as saying.

The arms are being smuggled through Iranian networks, which support many of the militias in Iraq.

The weapons that have been sent from Iraq to Russia include RPGs, anti-tank missiles and rocket launcher systems designed by Brazil.

Iranian weapons such as the Bavar 373 missile system and the S-300 missile defence system that was initially sent to Iran by Russia are also being transported to Moscow by Tehran,  the Guardian reported.

Russia appears to be looking to allies in the Middle East such as Iran and Syria to help circumvent stringent economic sanctions imposed in the aftermath of the invasion of Ukraine

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"Russia is isolated and needs all the support it can get. The invasion of Ukraine is depleting its resources at a pace faster than anyone expected," Dr Ali Bakir, senior researcher at Qatar University's Ibn Khaldon Center for Humanities and Social Sciences, told The New Arab. 

"Russia is currently in a quagmire in Ukraine and needs a face-saving victory at any cost. This would include using militias, utilizing Iranian support, and even possibly using chemical and tactical nuclear weapons if it takes," he added. 

The move also makes sense from an Iranian perspective, said Dr Bakir. "[If] Tehran and Washington manage to re-activate the JCPOA deal, we should expect more financial and military support from Iran to Russia. After all, Iran owes Russia in Syria. From the Iranian perspective, the war in Ukraine is seen as an opportunity to pay back the debt to Russia," he said. 

"For Iran and its Shiite militia, anything that would harm the US and its allies is a welcomed step. Therefore, supporting Russia in this critical moment whether politically or militarily seems consistent with this position."

Iraq has been awash with weapons following the 2003 US-led invasion.

Different armed factions emerged in the power vacuum which followed the removal of Saddam Hussein, including Iran-backed Shia militias which control large stockpiles of weapons.

These groups previously fought against the Islamic State extremist group in the country and have political sway in Baghdad.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began on 24 February. Thousands of people have been killed, with approximately four million forced to flee. 

Moscow is reportedly using tactics similar to those in its intervention in Syria, where it has been accused of committing war crimes to help prop up the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.