Tehran Procures Ground Effect Vehicles (GEVs) from Russia, as Moscow Continues to Lobby Against UN Arms Embargo on Iran

On July 27, Russia’s state-owned media out­let, RIA Novosti dis­closed that Rus­sia is “imple­ment­ing” a con­tract for the sup­ply of 6 twin-engine ekra­noplans (known col­lo­qui­al­ly as, the “Caspi­an Sea Mon­ster”) to Iran. Three of the Russ­ian-made ground effect vehi­cles (GEVs) have been suc­cess­ful­ly deliv­ered thus far.  Sep­a­rate reports have claimed that the GEVs, which facil­i­tate the mar­itime trans­port of car­go, mil­i­tary equip­ment, and pas­sen­gers, have been inte­grat­ed with Iran’s naval capa­bil­i­ty.

In 2009, Iran’s Islam­ic Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guard Corp. dis­played a pre­vi­ous iter­a­tion of the ekra­noplan that Tehran claimed to have pro­duced indige­nous­ly, how­ev­er, it was wide­ly spec­u­lat­ed that the GEVs were in fact pro­cured from Rus­sia.

News of the lat­est deliv­ery arrives days fol­low­ing remarks made by Russ­ian Min­is­ter of For­eign Affairs, Sergei Lavrov, reassert­ing Moscow’s oppo­si­tion to renew­al and expan­sion of the cur­rent UN arms embar­go on Iran, which is set to expire in Octo­ber 2020. Mean­while, Tehran has con­sis­tent­ly expressed inter­est in procur­ing Russ­ian weapons sys­tems.

Sep­a­rate reports this month also indi­cate that the renew­al of the Rus­sia-Iran 20-year strate­gic part­ner­ship agree­ment is expect­ed after its expi­ra­tion in March 2021. Terms and areas of coop­er­a­tion of a renewed agree­ment remain unclear, but the orig­i­nal pact defined bilat­er­al coop­er­a­tion that includ­ed ener­gy and arms sales.

In the peri­od since, the two coun­tries have also inten­si­fied their coop­er­a­tion in the Caspi­an Sea, where both Moscow and Tehran have increased com­mer­cial and naval coop­er­a­tion since the August 2018 sign­ing of the Con­ven­tion on Legal Sta­tus of the Caspi­an Sea among the five lit­toral states sur­round­ing the body of water. The Con­ven­tion estab­lished dis­tinct mar­itime bor­ders in the Caspi­an and has allowed for renewed oper­a­tion, explo­ration, and mil­i­tary coop­er­a­tion in the sea.