Why Putin Hasn’t Utilized Iran’s Missiles Yet

Time for rapid deployment is months away.

Shankar Narayan
7 min readFeb 22, 2024

Iran supplied Russia with 400 short-range ballistic missiles after the expiration of UN missile restrictions in October 2023. The supply started in early January and I am sure it will go on as long as Russia has the need and the money.

The economic and military cooperation between Russia, Iran, and North Korea, three nations that treat their citizens as a means to an end and not as individuals to be cared for, continues to deepen. Meanwhile, the West, on the other hand, keeps Ukrainian combat power in check by constraining their supply, as they keep stretching out their hands in hope that they will be able to convince Putin to stop the fight.

That is the strategy of U.S. President Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz: to convince Putin to stop fighting. However, Putin appears content to engage in a cycle of fighting, taking breaks, and then resuming hostilities — a pattern he has followed since 2008.

Labeling the administrations of Iran, the Kremlin, and North Korea as a bunch of fools may be fashionable, but it’s inaccurate. They are not foolish; rather, they are carefully responding to the West in a calibrated path of escalation. They understand that aiding Russia in defeating Ukraine serves their best interests, and if there’s an opportunity to profit from it, they will seize it. However, the American and German administrations still do not believe that an outright win by Ukraine is good for the entire world. Their actions continue to be dictated by fear.

Why it happened?

Because the Biden administration never understood the importance of words, and they are unlikely to understand that actions speak louder than words. Putin and the Iranians have exploited this dynamic effectively. Russia consistently tests the waters, gauging the response from the other side before taking the next step.

The Biden administration warned North Korea that it will face repercussions in the event it supplied missiles to Russia.

North Korea fully heard the American warning, yet they proceeded to supply missiles to Russia regardless. 24 North Korean missiles have already been utilized in attacks against Ukraine.

The Biden administration took no action. Perhaps they still reside in a fantasy world, believing that countries’ actions can be shaped by statements from the White House. There was time that alone used to be a huge deterrent, but the sequence of Obama-Trump-Biden administration has entirely shattered that deterrence.

Iran quietly observed America’s lack of response to North Korea’s supply of missiles to Russia. Then, they proceeded with their own supply. If no action is taken now, they will continue this pattern. Currently, it’s Russia; in the future, they will supply missiles to any country they choose.

The most ironic aspect of this saga is that Biden administration officials claimed their decision not to provide Ukraine with ATACMS was to dissuade Iran from supplying long-range missiles to Ukraine. What will they say now? That Iran is already facing devastating consequences from sanctions and thus no action is necessary?

Three nations, with economic and military strength that pales in comparison to the collective power of the West, are openly challenging them to act. Their greatest asset is not their inherent capabilities but rather the fear and inability to act exhibited by the Biden and Scholz administrations. This paralysis serves as their greatest strength. All three nations are banking on this paralysis. The behavior of American and German administrations, hesitant in the face of escalation, only reinforces this belief.

Why has Putin not yet deployed the Iranian missiles?

Putin’s army currently holds the advantage in the battlefield.

  • Ukraine faces a shortage of soldiers, while Russia has mobilized close to half a million men and continues to recruit daily. Their reserve strength in the occupied territory is significantly stronger today than it was last year.
  • Ukraine is facing an ammunition shortage. After stocking up on artillery shells from North Korea, Russia maintains the upper hand in terms of ammunition.
  • Ukraine is facing a shortage of air-defense missiles. Russia produces over 100 missiles each month and now possesses an additional 400 Iranian missiles.

The Kremlin would have undoubtedly recognized that the combat capacity on the battlefield is in their favor. However, why haven’t they opted to deploy all the missiles and devastate Ukraine to achieve an outright victory?

Putin is refraining from launching an all-out assault. Unfortunately, this decision is advantageous for him. The only time the West responded effectively was when Putin escalated his aggression, such as raiding Ukraine’s energy grid last winter and targeting civilians. In response, the West provided air-defense systems and heavy weapons to Ukraine.

If Putin engages in devastation by launching an all-out assault, the West will once again respond.

Ukraine may lose some territory and undoubtedly suffer significant casualties. However, they are likely to withstand the all-out assaults. If they do survive and the West decides to escalate its response, Russia would forfeit all the advantage it currently has. It will also happen at a time when Europe is expected to significantly ramp up its ammunition production. More importantly, in the second half of this year, Ukraine will most likely deploy F16 fighter jets on the battlefield.

If Putin goes all out and falls short of defeating Ukraine, then he would have lost his combat power exactly at a time when Ukraine’s combat power will start to increase.

Ukraine will have the F16s, and Russia will be depleted of missiles. Long-range missiles remain Putin’s only option to keep the Ukrainian air force in check. The airfields from which the F16s take off will be located deep inside Ukrainian territory, beyond the reach of Russian ground forces. Russian air force cannot approach these airfields as they will be protected by Ukrainian air-defense systems. Therefore, missiles are the safest option for Russia to destroy the airfields.

What are Ukraine’s options?

  1. Order mobilization

There is a difference between recruiting for the army and mobilization.

While recruitment aims to increase the size of the military force by attracting individuals through various methods such as advertising and enlistment procedures, mobilization focuses on sustaining military operations throughout the duration of the conflict, granting the government a broad set of powers to enlist people to join the army.

The Russian army had approximately 470,000 troops in the occupied territory according to estimates at the end of last year. They have a structured process that recruits new soldiers daily. As a dictatorship, they don’t care about the methods as long as the results are achieved. Ukraine does not enjoy the same freedoms. To maintain lower numbers than the Russian forces in the field, Ukraine relies on their allies to provide them with proper weapons, thus avoiding direct confrontation with Russian troops. With the right weapons, they do not need to match the strength of the Russian army. However, since allies are unreliable, Ukraine needs to depend on their own strength, necessitating mobilization.

2. Ukraine needs to get more Patriot air-defense systems

As many Patriots and air-defense missiles as possible are needed. Due to the sudden increase in the Russian missile stockpile, Ukraine must bolster the density of its air-defense systems. Adding more systems to the current network will enhance the strength of the entire defense network. Russia will target Ukraine’s fighter jets, primarily through their missiles. Ukraine must counter the missile campaign to protect its aircraft.

3. Set yourself on a path to be undependent on President Biden and Chancellor Scholz

I truly believe there is no alternative. Ukraine is determined to defeat Russia. However, President Biden and Chancellor Scholz, through their actions over the past two years, have clearly shown that they are not focused on defeating Russia. Their goal is to persuade Putin that war is not worth it.

A boxer determined to win, a coach who hesitates — this combination is not conducive to success. At the planning level, Ukraine’s route to victory should involve dependable allies. It’s advisable to establish a Future Coalition, excluding President Biden, Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and French President Emmanuel Macron from this group.

Instead, focus on assessing the collective capacity, power, and resources of the Future Coalition to formulate a winning strategy. The GDP of Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania is a little more than 11 trillion.

The total amount of Western aid provided to Ukraine until January 15, 2024, is $278 billion. After excluding the United States, Germany, France, and Hungary from the list, the number drops down to $176 billion.

That is the reliable funding. Of course, Germany will continue providing aid, and Biden will persist in his efforts. However, their indecision may disrupt planning due to uncertainties about their commitment.

Commitment to win. Commitment to win outright.

Ukraine should primarily rely on the Future Coalition to drive its plan, while allowing the big three — United States, France, and Germany — to act as they see fit.

If they provide assistance, offer them sincere gratitude. If not, so be it. If Ukraine aims to emerge victorious, it must devise strategies independent of President Biden, Chancellor Scholz, and President Macron. Accept their aid, but do not rely on them.

Note: Ukrainian Intelligence denied the Reuters report:

“On February 25, Ukraine’s Defense Intelligence Chief, Kyrylo Budanov, said that reports about Russia having Iranian ballistic missiles are false

He said this on February 25 at the sidelines of the Ukraine. 2024 forum, reported by correspondent Dmytro Didora from Espreso.

"They are not there, they are not there. It all does not correspond to reality," Budanov responded to journalists' questions about Iranian ballistic missiles in Russia”.




Shankar Narayan

He didn't care what he had or what he had left, he cared only about what he must do.