The Caspian Sea is likely one of the main routes from Iran to Russia for the Iranian-made attack drones and other support Tehran provides to the Kremlin due to the war on Ukraine and Western sanctions. .
Source: CNN report, as reported by European Pravda
Details: The journalists spoke to experts who track the movement of the cargo and, based on the available data, they assume that a significant part of the Shahed drones, mortar shells and other weapons that Russia buys from Iran for the war against Ukraine could take this route.
Cargo traffic data shows that freighters in the Caspian are increasingly turning off their transponders (an automatic identification system that is generally maintained), suggesting they have reasons for secrecy.
Thus, according to Lloyd’s List Intelligence, the number of ships in the Caspian Sea that hide data on their movements has increased significantly since September. These are mainly ships under the flag of Russia and Iran, among which there are many ships which, according to their technical characteristics, are suitable for transporting military cargo.
Most often, Caspian ships deactivate the automatic identification system near the Iranian ports of Amirabad and Anzali, as well as on the Russian Volga and near the port of Astrakhan.
Using data from MarineTraffic, CNN has tracked six Russian-flagged vessels and two Iranian-flagged vessels that analysts surveyed believe are behaving suspiciously. They noticed some regularities, such as ships that can go from Iranian ports to Astrakhan, Russia, but do not officially enter the port there; some ships disable data transmission when approaching Amirabad and Astrakhan; or they usually move for a long time with transponders off.
CNN also analyzed information from Flightradar24 and found that Iranian cargo planes made at least 85 flights to Russia between May 2022 and March 2023.
Analysts say while some of Iran’s Shahed drones can be brought to Russia by air, the sea route is much more cost-effective as it allows for much larger cargo to be transported at a time.
In mid-May, the White House reported that Iran was continuing to supply Russia with attack drones for the war against Ukraine.
Officially, Tehran has admitted to supplying Russia with a small batch of suicide drones ahead of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. But the media has repeatedly described how Moscow obtains weapons from Iran.
According to Ukrainian estimates, Russia has already used more than 400 Shahed-136 drones in Ukraine and has ordered 2,400 such drones in total. Initially they posed a problem for the Ukrainian air defense, but in recent attacks all or almost all of them have been destroyed.
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