The White House said on Monday that Russia is looking to purchase additional advanced attack drones from Iran for use in its war against Ukraine. After using most of the 400 drones it had previously bought from Tehran.
Last year, the Biden administration released satellite imagery and intelligence findings that it said indicated Iran had sold hundreds of attack drones to Russia. For months, officials have said the United States believed Iran was considering selling hundreds of ballistic missiles to Russia, but Washington had no evidence the deal was completed.
Iran also continues to provide Russia with one-way attack drones (unmanned aerial vehicles). “Since August, Iran has provided Russia with more than 400 Shahed drones,” said White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby.
Russia has spent most of these drones, using them to target critical Ukrainian infrastructure inside Ukraine. By supplying these drones to Russia, Iran is directly enabling Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine.
Unmanned aerial vehicles The ones Russia bought were already packed with explosives and programmed to loiter in the sky until they landed in the target — unmanned versions of the World War II kamikaze pilots who would launch their explosive-laden planes at American warships in the Pacific.
Kirby said the Russians are now looking to acquire more advanced drones “capable of more kills.”
The latest disclosure is part of an ongoing distillation of intelligence findings from the administration detailing what US officials say is a deep defense partnership between Russia and Iran. The US allegations are part of a broader effort to declassify and publicize intelligence findings related to Moscow’s prosecution of its 15-month war in Ukraine in hopes of cementing Russia’s global isolation.
Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s office announced on Monday that it would send hundreds more air defense missiles to Ukraine, as well as “long-range attack drones”. With a range of more than 200 km (120 miles). The announcement came as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited Britain and unsuccessfully pressed Sunak to provide Ukraine with fighter jets as Ukraine prepares for its long-awaited spring offensive to retake territory captured by Russia.
The Biden administration says the Kremlin’s dependence on Iran and North Korea – countries largely isolated on the international stage because of their nuclear programs and human rights records – shows desperation. This is in the face of the Ukrainian resistance and the success of the global coalition in disrupting Russian military supply chains and preventing replacements for missing weapons on the battlefield. The White House says Russia has turned to North Korea for artillery.
US officials say Iran also provided Russia with artillery and tank rounds for its invasion of Ukraine.
“This is a broad defense partnership that harms Ukraine, the region in the Middle East, and the international community,” Kirby said, adding that Iran has been Russia’s “largest military supporter” since the beginning of the Ukrainian invasion. .
Kirby said the administration is looking to further tighten export controls to prevent Western components from making their way to Iran for use in manufacturing drones. He also said more sanctions might be imposed on Iran and Russia.
Iran said it supplied the drones to Russia before the war began, but not since. North Korea denied that it provided Russia with artillery shells.
The White House has said for months that it has seen troubling signs that military cooperation between Moscow and Tehran could flow in both directions.
Iran is seeking to purchase additional military equipment from Russia, including attack helicopters, radars and YAK-130 combat trainer aircraft, according to the White House. Iran announced last month that it had finalized a deal to buy Su-35 fighter jets from Russia.
The White House also said earlier that Russia and Iran are considering starting an assembly line of drones in Russia for the conflict in Ukraine.
“All in all, Iran is seeking billions of dollars’ worth of military equipment from Russia,” Kirby said.
The new allegations come as Biden heads to Hiroshima, Japan, Later this week for the G7 summit, where the US president is expected to extend a call to fellow leaders of some of the world’s largest economies to tighten export controls and sanctions on Moscow.
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