In spite of the Iranian regime's increasing involvement in the war against Ukraine, the European Union appears more than happy to continue appeasing the Iran's ruling mullahs, which should officially be considered an accomplice to war crimes committed by Russia.
While the mullahs has been busy supporting Russia against Ukraine, the EU has also been busy increasing its trade with Iran. According to the latest report by the Financial Tribune:
"Iran and the European Union's 27 member states traded €5.23 billion worth of goods in 2022, registering a 7.95% rise compared with the year before.
"New data released by Eurostat show Germany was the top trading partner of Iran in the EU region during the period, as the two countries exchanged €1.86 billion worth of goods, 8.56% more than in 2021.
"Italy came next with €713.17 million worth of trade with Iran to register a 13.32% rise. The Netherlands with €445.57 million (down 7.61%) and Spain with €378.46 million (up 12.67%) were Iran's other major European trade partners.
"Croatia registered the highest growth of 48.84% in trade with Iran during the period under review and was followed by Bulgaria with 44.13%."
What is crushing is that the EU is cognizant of the fact some of its technology exports to Iran can be used for dual purposes: military and civilian. As the Jerusalem Post reported:
"Germany exported €1.2 billion worth of goods to Iran from January to the end of October in 2022. Germany exported €275 million worth of machines and engineering technology to Iran in 2021. Germany's non-transparent export regulations do not permit disclosure of the nature of the goods and material sold to Iran - some of which has been used for dual-use purposes (military and civilian aims) over the decades."
The beneficiaries of EU's increased trade with Iran are most likely the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The EU's trade with Iran, which helps increase the Iranian regime's revenue, is doubtless making it easier for the theocratic establishment to provide weapons to Russia as well. Iran also reportedly sent troops to Crimea to assist Russia in its attacks on Ukraine's infrastructure and civilian population, and to increase the effectiveness of the suicide drones Iran supplied to Russia.
The Iranian regime has, in fact, set up a specific route across the Caspian Sea in order to supply large quantities of munitions to Russia. An April 25 report by the Wall Street Journal stated:
"Russian ships are ferrying large quantities of Iranian artillery shells and other ammunition across the Caspian Sea to resupply troops fighting in Ukraine, Middle East officials said, posing a growing challenge for the U.S. and its allies as they try to disrupt cooperation between Moscow and Tehran.
"Over the past six months, cargo ships have carried more than 300,000 artillery shells and a million rounds of ammunition from Iran to Russia..."
The Iranian regime, probably because it knows that the European Union will not take any action, is ratcheting up its engagement and weapons exports to Russia. Sky News also reported on this issue in March, writing:
"Iran has secretly supplied large quantities of bullets, rockets and mortar shells to Russia for the war in Ukraine and plans to send more, a security source has told Sky News.
"The source claimed that two Russian-flagged cargo ships, departed an Iranian port in January bound for Russia via the Caspian Sea, carrying approximately 100 million bullets and around 300,000 shells.
"Ammunition for rocket launchers, mortars and machine guns was allegedly included in the shipments.
"The source said Moscow paid for the ammunition in cash."
The Iranian regime is simultaneously profiting from its trade with the EU and from its weapons sales to Russia, thereby empowering Putin to escalate his war against Ukraine.
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a business strategist and advisor, Harvard-educated scholar, political scientist, board member of Harvard International Review, and president of the International American Council on the Middle East. He has authored several books on Islam and US Foreign Policy. He can be reached at Dr.Rafizadeh@Post.Harvard.Edu