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Iran Allegedly Intends to Give Russia Military Drones


Predator Type MQ1 Drones 3D artwork. | Image by Boscorelli, Shutterstock

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According to White House officials, recently declassified U.S. intelligence indicates that Iran is allegedly expected to provide Russia with “hundreds” of drones — including weapon-capable drones — for use in the conflict in Ukraine and that Iran is getting ready to start training Russian forces on how to use them as early as late July.

“Information indicates that the Iranian government is preparing to provide Russia with up to several hundred [unmanned aerial vehicles], including weapons-capable UAVs, on an expedited timeline,” National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said to media at a White House press briefing last week.

“Our information further indicates that Iran is preparing to train Russian forces to use these UAVs, with initial training session slated for as soon as early July. It’s unclear whether Iran has delivered any of these UAVs to Russia already,” he said.

According to a White House National Security Council spokesperson, Sullivan’s knowledge was based on recently declassified intelligence.

According to Sullivan, the revelation that Iran provided the drones proves that Russia’s recent operations against Ukraine came at the “severe” cost of depleting its own arsenal.

Iran did not confirm or reject the U.S. assertion that technological cooperation with Russia existed before the war.

According to Nasser Kanani Chafi, a spokeswoman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, “There has been no special development in this relationship recently.”

Drones have become a crucial component of the conflict between both Russia and Ukraine.

A day before President Joe Biden’s first trip to the Middle East as president, which included stops in Israel and Saudi Arabia, news broke of Iran’s delivery of drones to Russia.

As expectations for restoring the 2015 nuclear deal have receded following delayed talks in Doha, Qatar, last month, Biden is still under increasing pressure from Middle Eastern partners to develop a workable plan to restrain Iran.

Sullivan brought up how Iran had given Yemen’s Houthi rebels identical drones so they could target Saudi Arabia before a ceasefire was established earlier this year.

Both Russian and Ukrainian forces have used homemade Orlan-10 drones for electronic warfare and surveillance during the conflict in Ukraine.

The Ukrainian military used Turkish-built Bayraktar UAVs to target Russian command posts, tanks, and surface-to-air missile systems. But as more and more drones on either side have been shot down or have crashed during the nearly five-month conflict, their numbers have decreased.

Lithuania and Poland, two of Ukraine’s allies, have started crowdfunding projects to buy additional Bayraktar drones for the Ukrainian military, and the U.S. has given Ukraine miniature Switchblade kamikaze drones. Additionally, Washington has been debating whether to provide Ukraine with bigger drones that can carry Hellfire missiles.

The U.S. believes Russia has turned to Iran to help replenish its drone inventory. However, it is unknown how sophisticated or functional those drones will be.

American authorities revealed in March that Russia has previously looked to China for assistance in financing its conflict in Ukraine. Sullivan told reporters that as of late May, the U.S. had not discovered proof that China had given Russia any financial or military assistance for the invasion.

But in recent months, Iran has pushed for deeper ties with Russia. According to the New York Times, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi urged Putin during a January visit to Moscow that it was time for Russia and Iran to combat “the power of the Americans with an increasing synergy between our two countries.”

Putin is scheduled to visit Tehran, the capital of Iran, on July 19. He is expected to meet with Raisi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for peace talks concerning Syria.

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