Iran has supplied Russia with hundreds of one-way attack drones to aid in its war with Ukraine, the White House said on Friday.
The Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) were built in Iran and shipped across the Caspian Sea, and Russian forces have used them to strike Ukraine, the White House announced, citing newly classified information.
“Russia has been using Iranian UAVs in recent weeks to strike Kyiv and terrorize the Ukrainian population, and the Russia-Iran military partnership appears to be deepening,” White House spokesman John Kirby said in a statement, according to Reuters. “We are also concerned that Russia is working with Iran to produce Iranian UAVs from inside Russia.”
Zelensky has asked the Ukrainian Parliament to impose sanctions on Iran for the next 50 years.
Trade, investments and technology transfers with Iran will be banned.
Iran has provided Russia with Shahed suicide drones and other weapons which Russia is using against Ukraine. pic.twitter.com/rjvCJqFNgz
— Visegrád 24 (@visegrad24) May 28, 2023
Kirby disclosed that U.S. intel has found that Iran has sent Russia the materials needed to build a drone manufacturing plant, adding that it could be fully operational in early 2024.
“We are releasing satellite imagery of the planned location of this UAV manufacturing plant in Russia’s Alabuga Special Economic Zone,” he stated.
The “cooperation” between Russia and Iran goes both ways, according to Kirby.
“Russia has been offering Iran unprecedented defense cooperation, including on missiles, electronics, and air defense,” he explained.
“This is a full-scale defense partnership that is harmful to Ukraine, to Iran’s neighbors, and to the international community,” the White House spokesman said. “We are continuing to use all the tools at our disposal to expose and disrupt these activities including by sharing this with the public – and we are prepared to do more.”
It is interesting to note that, in August of 2022, the Biden administration sent new drones to Ukraine as part of a $775 million package to assist Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s war efforts.
“For the first time, the U.S. is sending 15 ScanEagle surveillance drones to help the Ukrainians spot and correct the precision artillery and rocket strikes that have taken a toll on Russian forces, stalling their progress,” Politico reported at the time. “The small drones can be moved around the battlefield relatively easily and would be invaluable in the expected push to retake the city of Kherson in the south.”
On May 31 of this year, The New York Times reported that the “Biden administration on Wednesday announced $300 million in military aid for Ukraine, the latest package of weapons and other military equipment that the United States has been sending to Kyiv since the beginning of Russia’s invasion.”
“The package includes additional ammunition for drones and long-range artillery,” The Times stated.
According to Kirby, Iran’s transfer of drones to Russia is a violation of United Nations rules and the U.S. will work to hold the two countries accountable.
“We will continue to impose sanctions on the actors involved in the transfer of Iranian military equipment to Russia for use in Ukraine,” Kirby vowed.
Meanwhile, videos of Ukrainian drones allegedly striking inside Russia have begun circulating on social media.
According to The Sun, an “unverified” video released by the 72nd Brigade of the Ukrainian Armed Forces “allegedly shows Russian soldiers being wiped out” after Ukrainian drones were dropped into trenches.
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