The White House claimed to have troubling evidence of Tehran’s deepening role in assisting Russia as it exacts suffering on Ukrainian civilians just as the cold weather sets in, claiming that Iranian troops are “directly engaged on the ground” in Crimea supporting Russian drone attacks on Ukraine’s power plants and other critical infrastructure.
According to National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby, Iran has dispatched a “very modest number” of individuals to Crimea, a region of Ukraine that Russia illegally and unilaterally invaded in 2014, to aid Russian forces in launching drones built in Iran against Ukraine. According to the British government, members of a division of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps were sent to help Russian soldiers operate the drones.
The U.S. intelligence report was made public while the Biden administration was trying to pressure Tehran to stop assisting Russia in using drones produced in Iran to attack soft civilian targets in Ukraine.
The use of drones provided by Iran and the Kalibr and Iskander cruise missiles by the Russians in recent days has increased as they launch a torrent of strikes on Ukrainian infrastructure and non-military targets.
This Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that Russian troops had damaged 30% of Ukraine’s power plants since October 10.
According to our information, the Iranians have sent trainers and technical assistance to Crimea, but the Russians are operating the aircraft, according to Mr. Kirby.
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He said that the Biden administration might consider a fresh round of sanctions against Tehran, and efforts will be made to make it more difficult for Iran to export such weapons to Russia.
This summer, the U.S. made public that Russia was acquiring Iranian unmanned aircraft systems to use against Ukraine for the first time. However, Iran has denied providing Russia with its weapons.
According to White House officials, export prohibitions and international sanctions have put the Russians in a difficult situation as they attempt to replenish their stores of ammunition and precision-guided weapons, which have been depleted over the conflict’s almost eight-month duration. Russia has thus been compelled to look to Iran and North Korea for firearms.
The Pentagon’s press secretary, Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters that given the Russians’ current circumstances, military authorities “wouldn’t be shocked” if they requested more drones from Iran.
Last week, Mr. Zelenskyy said Russia had requested 2,400 items from Iran.
Because the Russians are unfamiliar with the Iranian-made drones, U.S. officials suspect Iran may have sent military personnel to help the Russians. In addition, according to declassified U.S. intelligence reports, the Russians had technical issues with the drones shortly after receiving them in August.
According to Mr. Kirby, “the systems themselves were failing and not operating to the levels that the consumers anticipated.” Therefore, the Iranians decided to provide some trainers and technical assistance to enable the Russians to utilize them more lethally.
At a delicate time, the Biden administration disclosed further information on Iran’s participation in aiding Russia’s war. Moreover, in response to Iran’s ruthless crackdown on anti-government demonstrations sparked by the murder of Mahsa Amini, 22, who passed away while being held by Iranian security, the administration has imposed further sanctions on the country.
Amini was held by moral police last month for failing to adequately cover her hair with the hijab, an Islamic head covering required for Iranian women. Amini passed just three days after collapsing at a police station.
As the government works to bring Iran back into compliance with the nuclear agreement mediated by the Obama administration and abandoned by the Trump administration, her death and the ensuing turmoil have coincided.
This week, Iran was accused by Ukraine at the UN of breaking a Security Council prohibition on the transfer of drones with a 300-kilometer range (180 miles).
In 2015, the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution endorsing the nuclear agreement between Iran and six countries, including the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France, and Germany, to limit Tehran’s nuclear activities and prevent the country from developing nuclear weapons.
Britain, France, and the U.S. firmly support Ukraine’s claims that the drones were transferred to Russia and violated this agreement.
The administration has little expectation of quickly restarting the Iran nuclear agreement, according to Mr. Kirby.
At this moment, Mr. Kirby said, “diplomacy is not our first concern.” Instead, we are concentrating on ensuring that we hold the dictatorship responsible for how they are treating peaceful protestors in their nation and supporting those protesters.
The British government on Thursday imposed further penalties against Iranian officials and companies suspected of providing the drones, and the White House responded regarding Iranian aid to Russia.
James Cleverly, the British Foreign Secretary, stated, “these despicable drone attacks are an act of desperation.” “By permitting these strikes, these people and a company have subjected the Ukrainian people to excruciating misery. They will be held accountable for their acts; we will make sure of it.
Brig. Gen. Seyed Hojjatollah Qureishi, a significant Iranian negotiator in the deal, Brig. Gen. Mohammad Hossein Bagheri, chairman of the armed forces general staff overseeing the army branches supplying Russia with drones, and Brig. Gen. Saeed Aghajani, head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Aerospace Force UAV Command, was among those hit with asset freezes and travel bans by the British.
An asset freeze was also imposed on Shahed Aviation Industries, the Iranian producer of the drones deployed by Russia.