Russia's President Vladimir Putin (L), who arrived to attend the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF), meets with Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran, Iran, November 23, 2015.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin (L), who arrived to attend the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF), meets with Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran, Iran, November 23, 2015. Reuters / Reuters Photographer


  • Russia is supplying Iran with surveillance and cyberwarfare devices and software, according to a new report
  • A Russian telecom company provided internet censorship software to Iran
  • Russia and Iran signed a cybersecurity cooperation agreement in 2021

The ties between Russia and Iran have further deepened amid the raging war in Ukraine.

After Iran supplied Russia with lethal drones for its invasion of Ukraine, Moscow appeared to have reciprocated by providing cyber weapons to the country, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Russia provided Iran with communication-surveillance capabilities as well as eavesdropping devices, advanced photography devices and lie detectors, unnamed individuals familiar with the matter told WSJ.

Russia has also likely supplied Iran with more advanced software that could be used to hack its critics and adversaries' mobile phones and systems, according to the sources.

Cooperation between Moscow and Tehran intensified after the latter agreed to provide, in addition to drones, short-range missiles as well as tank and artillery rounds, the outlet reported, citing unnamed sources among U.S. and Iranian officials.

Documents published by Citizen Lab, a research center at the University of Toronto, showed that Russia's telecommunication company PROTEI has started providing internet-censorship software to Iranian mobile services provider Ariantel.

According to cybersecurity analysts, PROTEI, which has business ties with the Russian Defense Ministry, is known for developing hardware and software that help authorities monitor communications on phone lines, emails and credit card transactions.

Citizen Lab said there is evidence showing that the Russian telecommunication company's tools were used to develop a mobile phone system that would "enable state authorities to directly monitor, intercept, redirect, degrade or deny all Iranians' mobile communications, including those who are presently challenging the regime."

The two countries stepped up their cyber-cooperation in recent years.

In 2021, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif signed an agreement on cybersecurity cooperation.

Lavrov said the agreement would empower both countries to "coordinate our activities given the growing importance of cyber issues," Russian state-run news agency Tass reported.

Iran has a history of utilizing cyberwarfare to suppress dissidents.

In 2010, Iran established its cyber defense command under the Joint Staff of Iranian Armed Forces, following the birth of the Green Movement, the country's largest popular uprising through the internet.

During last year's nationwide demonstrations supporting women's rights, the Iranian government restricted internet access in most parts of the country, with the aim of disrupting the growing public anger over the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini at the hands of the morality police.

Russian-Iranian ties have been under intense scrutiny after Russian forces used Iranian attack drones on the Ukrainian battlefield.

In October 2022, Russia launched 28 Shahed-136 attack drones on Ukraine's capital Kyiv, killing four Ukrainians and crippling several civilian infrastructures.

Iran admitted in November that it had supplied Russia with its attack drones months before the war in Ukraine broke out.

Ukraine's western allies, such as the U.S., the European Union and the U.K., have imposed sanctions on Iran for supplying Russia with drones.

Iran has denied supplying Russia with cheap kamikaze drones that have targeted Ukraine for weeks