Iran drones: Tehran agrees to give Russia drones before Moscow invades Ukraine




CNN

The Iranian government admitted on Saturday for the first time that it had sent a limited number of drones to Russia in the months before the start of its invasion of Ukraine.

The statement by Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian comes after Tehran denied supplying Russia with weapons for use in Ukraine, saying it “has not and will not”. Amirabdollahian did not say whether the drones being supplied to Moscow were of the type that carried explosives.

“Some Western countries have accused Iran of helping the war in Ukraine by supplying Russia with drones and missiles. The part about missiles is completely wrong. The part about drones is correct, we gave Russia a limited number of drones in the months before the war in Ukraine started,” Amirabdollahian told reporters in Tehran.

Self-detonating drones have played a major role in the conflict since Russia launched its invasion in late February. They are able to surround an area identified as a potential target for a period of time and only strike once an enemy asset has been identified.

Russia has carried out a series of drone strikes across Ukraine in recent weeks, hitting vital civilian infrastructure and sowing terror in Ukrainian cities far from the front lines of the war. Ukrainian officials said last week that they had shot down more than 300 Iranian drones.

Officials in a Western country that closely monitors Iran’s weapons program also told CNN that Iran is preparing to send more attack drones to Russia, along with surface-to-surface short-range ballistic missiles, for use in the war against Ukraine.

The latest weapons shipment from Iran to Russia included about 450 drones, which officials said the Russians have already used to deadly effect in Ukraine.

Amirabdollahian said Tehran had reached an agreement with Ukraine to examine evidence to prove that Russia used Iranian drones in the war.

“We agreed with the Ukrainian foreign minister to hand over any documents that show that Russia used Iranian drones in Ukraine,” he said, adding that an Iranian delegation had planned to meet with Ukrainian authorities in Europe to discuss the matter, but that meeting was canceled by Kiev.

“Two weeks ago we had such an appointment in a European country, a military and political delegation went to that European country, but unfortunately at the last moment the Ukrainian delegation did not attend due to the pressure from the USA and some European countries in particular. Germany,” added Amirabdollahian.

Iran’s foreign minister said he spoke with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba last week and they agreed to let Iran examine all the evidence Ukraine has in the coming days.

“Of course, if it is proven that Russia used Iranian drones in the war against Ukraine, we will not be indifferent to this issue,” Amirabdollahian said.

“Our position regarding the war in Ukraine is to stop the war, return the parties to negotiations and return the displaced people to their homes,” he continued.

CNN’s Kylie Atwood contributed to this report.