The US has announced the transfer of thousands of seized Iranian weapons and rounds of ammunition to Ukraine to strengthen its military.
This decision is crucial as Ukraine awaits more financial and equipment support from the US and its allies amid ongoing regional tensions.
Recently, CENTCOM of the United States disclosed that it transferred more than one million rounds of ammunition seized from Iran to the Ukrainian armed forces.
This has made a significant addition to Ukraine’s military strength. The transfer occurred on July 20, 2023, after the Department of Justice made civil forfeiture claims against Iran’s IRGC.
The seized munitions, which included proximity fuses for rocket-propelled grenades and propellant for rocket-propelled grenades, were initially confiscated by US CENTCOM naval forces from a stateless vessel, the MARWAN 1, on December 9, 2022.
These weapons were transported from the IRGC to the Houthi rebels in Yemen, violating United Nations Security Council Resolution 2216.
The Biden administration has deliberated for months on the legalities and logistics of sending these seized weapons, stored in CENTCOM facilities across the Middle East, to Ukraine.
Over the past year, the US Navy, often in partnership with regional forces, has seized numerous Iranian weapons, including assault rifles and ammunition, from vessels used by Iran to smuggle arms to Yemen.
These interdictions have disrupted the historical routes used for arming the Houthi rebels.
Seizure of Iranian Weapons Strengthens Ukraine, Fuels Geopolitical Tensions
Notably, in mid-January, the US assisted French forces in seizing 3,000 assault rifles and 23 anti-tank guided missiles bound for Yemen from Iran.
The confiscated weapons became the property of the United States, further contributing to the stockpile intended for Ukraine.
The decision to send these seized Iranian weapons to Ukraine is a crucial lifeline for the Ukrainian military.
Jonathan Lord, a senior fellow and director of the Middle East security program at the Center for a New American Security, emphasized the importance of this move, stating, “While this isn’t a solution to all of Ukraine’s military needs, it will provide critical support.”
Furthermore, the decision may have broader geopolitical implications by potentially straining the relationship between Iran and Russia.
Iran and Russia had been developing a de facto defense partnership in recent months, with Iran supplying Russia with drones for its operations in Ukraine. The transfer of seized Iranian weapons to Ukraine could pressure this burgeoning relationship.
Transferring seized Iranian weapons and ammunition to Ukraine demonstrates the United States’ commitment to supporting Ukraine’s defense efforts.
This move provides much-needed resources to the Ukrainian military. It can impact the dynamics of regional partnerships, highlighting the complex geopolitical landscape in which these decisions are made.