Throughout the full-fledged Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Ukrainian military, also known as the ZSU, has adapted to the various challenges against a highly formidable foe. Not just using Western weapons to stave off the most significant war of conquest since WWII, Kyiv has invested in a growing defense industry.

Surprisingly, Ukraine has been using weapons off the black market from countries that are either allied or sympathetic to Russia. Utilizing the black-market global arms trade or repurposing captured international weapons from use, Kyiv has taken the fight back to the Kremlin—using a taste of their own medicine.

Weapons Originating from Iran

Iranian arsenals, such as the 120mm M-48 HE mortar shell, the 122mm OF-462 artillery shell, and the 125mm OF-19 tank shell, have all ended up in the possession of the ZSU. Throughout the ongoing war, the open source intelligence (OSINT) channel, Ukraine Weapons Tracker, displayed a photograph from the 24th Mechanized Brigade of possessing the 120mm M-48, which is Iranian in origin.

It is unclear where or how the weapons ended up in the possession of the ZSU. The US Navy has frequently seized Iranian “humanitarian” cargo ships bound for Yemen that ultimately had weapons on board for their Houthi proxies. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has used black-market weapons export to various proxies that answer to the IRGC.

On numerous occasions, Israel has also seized Iranian-made weapons bound for paramilitary organizations such as Hezbollah, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Though not shipping weapons directly to balance the thin line of Russian forces potentially giving weapons to Iranian militias in Syria, the Israeli Ambassador to Germany, Ron Prosor, stated Tel Aviv is helping Kyiv behind the scenes. A potential third-party transfer of Iranian confiscated weapons between the Israeli Mossad and Ukrainian HUR could have occurred.

Seized Iranian weapons interdicted by the US Navy via CBS

Weapons Originating from North Korea