Iran will supply unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to Russia in an effort to aid it in its ongoing invasion of Ukraine, the United States has claimed its intelligence has revealed.
In a press conference at the White House on Monday, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters that “information indicates that the Iranian government is preparing to send Russia to several hundred [UAVs]including weapon-capable UAVs on an accelerated timeline”.
Sullivan added: “Our information further indicates that Iran is preparing to train Russian forces to use these UAVs, with an initial training session scheduled for early July. It is unclear whether Iran has already supplied any of these UAVs to Russia.”
According to Sullivan, the delivery of the drones is proof that Moscow needs more supplies, as increased attacks on Ukrainian defenses and cities in recent weeks have depleted its own weapons stockpiles.
Washington’s claim over the delivery of drones comes amid ongoing and repeatedly delayed talks over the revival of the Iran nuclear deal, an issue increasingly preoccupying countries in the region and the international community.
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Sullivan’s announcement also came a day before President Joe Biden began his journey to the Middle East, where he has stopped in Israel today before he was expected to visit Saudi Arabia. During his trip, Iran and the security concerns surrounding it will reportedly be a major topic in the talks, which may include Tehran’s alleged delivery of drones to Moscow.
The deliveries will also be the first known case of a foreign country and an ally providing aid to Russia for the war in Ukraine, in which the Kremlin has previously asked China for help, the outcome of which is unknown. On the other hand, numerous countries have provided Ukraine with military aid and weapons, including drones from the US, Turkiye and the UK.
It is not yet clear which drones Tehran will deliver to Moscow if the reports are correct. Whether combat or surveillance drones, the delivery would be a sign of even greater ties between the two countries at a time when much of the international community continues to isolate Russia over the invasion of Ukraine.
It would also represent the first element of overt Iranian support for Russia’s “special military operation” after months of clinging to only economic and trade support and cooperation.
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