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From Iran to Ukraine: Seized Munitions Turned Against Russia

Updated: Oct 6, 2023

On October 4, the U.S. military's Central Command announced that it had recently delivered approximately 1.1 million 7.62mm rounds compatible with AK-47 Kalashnikov machine guns to the armed forces of Ukraine.

The statement highlighted, "The US government obtained ownership of these munitions on July 20, 2023, U.S. District Court issued a final order of forfeiture for the District of Columbia through the Department of Justice’s civil forfeiture claims against Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). These munitions were initially intercepted by U.S. Central Command naval units from the stateless vessel MARWAN 1 on Dec. 9, 2022. The IRGC was illicitly transferring these munitions to the Houthi rebels in Yemen, defying United Nations Security Council Resolution 2216."

Marwan 1

Furthermore, a representative from the Defense Department mentioned on Wednesday that final legal procedures are underway to send additional confiscated Iranian arms bound for Yemen or Somalia to Ukraine, including AK-47 assault rifles. Earlier, U.S. forces had apprehended many assault rifles and proximity fuses for rocket-propelled grenades (RPG) from Iranian-affiliated smugglers. As noted in a March statement by the Justice Department, these arms, too, are part of a forfeiture complaint.

Recent developments have seen an uptick in military collaboration between Russia and Iran, particularly post Russia's incursion into Ukraine. Iran has supplied Russia with kamikaze drones, specifically the Shahed-136 model. Additionally, both nations plan to establish a drone manufacturing facility within Russian borders. This topic was discussed during the recent visit of the Russian defense minister to Tehran.


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