A top US official in charge of national security stated that Iranian military personnel have visited the seized Ukrainian region of Crimea to help Russian forces in operating drones in attacking civilian targets in Ukraine.
At a teleconference with media persons, the National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby said that in September, Russia transferred unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs that it had purchased from Iran into Crimea to use in its war against Ukraine.
Washington has been warning since July that Iran would be planning to sell UAVs to Russia.
“So today we can confirm that Russian military personnel that are based in Crimea have been piloting Iranian UAVs, using them to conduct strikes across Ukraine, including strikes against Kyiv in just recent days,” Kirby told reporters.
Washington’s assessment is that Iranian military personnel were on the ground in Crimea and assisted Russia in these operations, and Russia has received dozens of UAVs so far and will likely continue to receive additional shipments in the future.
Replying to a question, Kirby said Russian armed forces are not familiar using organically manufactured Iranian UAVs, and the Russians just don’t have anything in their inventory. So, they would need a little training on how to pilot these things.
Kirby expressed concern that in light of its ongoing supply shortages, Russia may also seek to acquire advanced conventional weapons from Iran, such as surface-to-surface missiles that will almost certainly be used to support the war against Ukraine.
Russian forces have been launching Iran-made ‘kamikaze’ drones and missiles on civilian and energy infrastructure targets across Ukraine since October 7, killing dozens and leading to power and water shortages.
Hundreds of towns and villages in the country are in blackout as a result.
Iran denies supplying Russia with the small aerial weapons, which are destroyed after hitting the target.
“Iran and Russia, they can lie to the world, but they certainly can’t hide the facts”, according to the top US official.
Kirby accused Tehran of directly engaged on the ground and through the provision of weapons that are killing civilians and destroying civilian infrastructure in Ukraine.
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