The sea route between Iran and Russia across the Caspian Sea is increasingly clogged with shipping traffic, and cargo ships in the region are increasingly losing track.
The data shows a significant increase in Iranian and Russian cargo ships blackening since last September, shortly after US and Ukrainian authorities claimed that Moscow had purchased kamikaze drones from Tehran.
Since then, the stock has only gone one way: up.
– This is no surprise. It’s clear here that weapons and military materials go both ways, says Lieutenant Colonel at the Norwegian Defense Academy Geir Hagen Carlsen to Dagbladet.
He claims that cooperation has intensified
The war in Ukraine has long since evolved into an industrial war, with both sides struggling to ramp up production of weapons and ammunition.
With an arms industry marked by Western sanctions, Russia has set its sights on Iran. The country has a large arms industry, and over several years has learned to live with Western sanctions.
– Even if they do not have the most advanced weapons, they can contribute in large quantities, says Carlsen.
Iranian kamikaze drones have so far been important in Russia’s war in Ukraine. Last week, the US National Security Adviser, John Kirby, claimed that the two countries are in the process of further strengthening defense cooperation.
The presenter stresses that Iran does not have much to lose through cooperation with Russia, and that cooperation and trade between the two countries probably covers many areas.
When it comes to weapons, he believes Iran also has interests in Russian materials and technology, and could find its way across the Caspian Sea.
– We should not exclude that Western components and industrial machinery, which can be used in the manufacture of weapons, go in this way to Russia through third countries, says Carlsen.
New trade routes
bloomberg He mentioned in December how Russia and Iran were working to create new trade routes to the east – over and around the Caspian Sea.
Both countries are under heavy sanctions from the West, and aim to build new trade links with Asia – without Western interference.
Then Robert Malley, the US special envoy to Iran, stated that stopping arms shipments between the two countries had become his top priority.
But there is not much the West can do to stop this shipping directly.
In addition to Russia and Iran, the Caspian Sea is surrounded by the former Soviet countries Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan.
– This is far from NATO territory. To prevent that, you had to go through countries that definitely wouldn’t allow it, Carlsen says.
He believes that the most important thing is to continue and further develop industrial sanctions against Russia.
– And not least to put pressure on other countries to comply with the sanctions, to prevent Western technology and industrial machinery from getting into the hands of Russia.
– Not strange
The data from Lloyd’s List Intelligence is based on AIS, a tracking system that automatically broadcasts information about the vessel and its position.
Most ships are required to have such a system. It is not normally allowed to be turned off, except in cases where identification might threaten the safety of the ship.
Most of the gaps in tracking data for cargo ships are said to have occurred near the ports of Amirabad and Anzali in Iran and at the port of Astrakhan and the Volga River in Russia. Most of the holes will be accounted for by Russian ships.
Russian ships disappearing from radar is also happening around Norway and in the Baltic Sea, Carlsen says, adding that there are also several tools for masking maritime activity.
– You can also send a fake ID or manipulated GPS data to be notified of a wrong location. It is not known at all.
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