Are Iran and Syria Russian friends in need?

Are Iran and Syria Russian friends in need? Ukraine in Flames #146

Having been subjected to unprecedented isolation in the West, Russia is trying to forge new alliances and revitalize old ones in the Global South. As authoritarian and isolationist regimes are naturally drawn to each other as trade partners and military allies, Russia is increasingly interested in Iran. Recent request – albeit denied by Teheran – for Iranian drones is just one of the signs.

Russia is equally interested in learning from the Iranian long experience of survival under the Western sanctions that, despite Moscow’s bravado and claims that European economies suffer more, have already started to manifest their impact. Such impact is directly linked to the Russian capacity to repair damaged weapons and produce new ones, and they have been limited due to the logistical chains uprooted by sanctions. While Russia still has considerable military resources, it is starting to look for ways to replenish them, thus taking a closer look at Teheran.

Another natural ally to Russia is the regime of Bashar Assad in Syria, who remains in his seat as a dictator perhaps solely due to the substantial military help from Moscow. In fact, many of the military tactics Russia has used in Syria are now being applied in Ukraine – including those that constitute war crimes, such as deliberate targeting of civilian infrastructure and double strikes to eliminate the first responders to the initial attacks.

Russia has a military base in Syria and Assad regime obviously has a bloody debt to pay to Moscow – however, can those resources indeed be pulled from Syria? In addition to obvious logistical challenges, such a step would severely undermine Russian positions in the region. Moreover, the attempted campaign to recruit mercenaries from Syria as manpower to fight against Ukraine several months ago also failed.

Ukraine In Flames #146 evaluates the pillars of Russian propaganda, targeting Global South and Iran in particular, exploitation of anti-Western sentiment in the region and prospects of increased cooperation between Moscow and Teheran – as well as how likely is Bashar Assad to rush to the rescue.


  • Maria Zolkina, analyst at Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation
  • Kamran Matin, Associate Professor of International Relations at Sussex University, UK
  • Igor Semyvolos, executive director of Association of Middle East Studies

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