Iran and Belarus Boost Defense Relationship

Belarussian Defense Minister Viktor Khrenin visited Tehran this week to increase defense ties with Iran.

  • On July 31, Khrenin signed a memorandum of understanding with Iranian Defense Minister Mohammed Reza Ashtiani. The details of this memorandum are unclear at this point. But Critical Threats Project, an American research institute, claimed the memorandum may have been about constructing Shahed “suicide drone” factories in Belarus. Russia has been relying on Iran’s Shahed drone in its war against Ukraine.
  • On August 1, Khrenin and Iran’s Armed Forces General Chief of Staff Mohammed Bagheri spoke about conducting joint military exercises. They also discussed establishing military attachés and establishing a Belarus-Iran military cooperation commission.

Iran has become one of Russia’s principal backers in the Ukraine War. Belarus, under President Alexander Lukashenko, has become little more than a Russian satellite state. Russian President Vladimir Putin used Belarus as a launch pad for his invasion of Ukraine last year.

It may not be that surprising for Iran and Belarus to grow closer. But Iran and Belarus linking their militaries would be a whole different scenario. Belarus geographically is much closer to European Union member states than most of Russian territory. Berlin, Germany, is less than 450 miles from Belarussian territory. Warsaw, Poland, is a three-hour drive from the Belarussian border.

What could Iran do? Iran is the world’s biggest state sponsor of terrorism. Iran gets implicated for attempting (or even carrying out) terror attacks in Europe all the time. But Belarus could be a conduit for Iran to accomplish more than just convincing an individual over the Internet to assault a synagogue. Belarus could become a launch pad for Iran’s military—whether through smuggling intelligence agents across the border, setting up spying stations, or even eventually hosting military bases.

How far will Iran push? Iran is a dangerous pariah state. But Iran is far enough away from Europe to not look like too serious of a threat. The Ukraine War is changing this. More and more, the crisis on Europe’s eastern fringe is becoming a conduit for Iran to attack Europe. We can expect Iran-Europe relations to deteriorate to the point where they become archrivals.

Learn more: Read “An Alliance of Evil.”