Iran Denies Russia Is Using Its Drones to Target Ukrainian Civilians: ‘Unfounded’ Propaganda’

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An Iranian-made ‘kamikaze’ drone, provided to Houthi militants in Yemen and fired at Saudi Arabia in 2017. (Photo by Jim Watson / AFP via Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) – Despite evidence to the contrary and accusations by Ukraine and Western partners, the Iranian regime continues to deny having provided drones which Russia is using to deadly effect in Ukraine.

After a German diplomat raised the issue at a U.N. General Assembly committee meeting in New York, an Iranian representative went on the offensive.

“Germany condemns Iran’s supply of unstaffed combat aerial systems in support of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine,” Germany’s Thomas Goebel told a session of the UNGA First Committee, which deals with disarmament and international security.

Taking the floor in a right of reply, Iranian delegate Heidar Ali Balouji said Iran “categorically rejects and strongly condemns unfounded and unsubstantiated claims by delegations like Germany about selling unmanned aerial vehicles for use in the Ukraine conflict.”

“Such unfounded claims, are nothing more than a propaganda apparatus launched by certain states to further their political agenda,” he said.

Balouji said Iran would continue its policy of “constructive engagement, to help the peaceful resolution of this crisis.”

Citing “extensive proof of their use by Russia against both military and civilian targets” in Ukraine, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre accused Tehran of lying when it denies supplying drones to the Russians.

“Iran continues to lie about this,” she told reporters on Monday. “They have not been truthful about this and deny providing weapons to Russia for use in Ukraine.”

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan first disclosed last July that Iran was preparing to provide Russia with drones for use in Ukraine, and the Pentagon weeks ago confirmed its assessment that Russia was now using Iranian drones in its campaign.

“We’ve seen these Iranian drones that have been provided to Russia for use in Ukraine being used to strike civilian targets, which of course, is a violation of the law of armed conflict,” Pentagon press secretary Patrick Ryder said during a briefing on Tuesday.

More than a dozen Ukrainian civilians have been killed since last week in Russian attacks evidently using Iranian drones. According to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Russian forces have destroyed 30 percent of the country’s power grid infrastructure in attacks using missiles and Iranian-supplied drones, causing severe blackouts.

The Ukrainian Air Force has reported that air defense units have shot down dozens of Iranian-made Shahed-136 “kamikaze” drones in recent days.

‘Accomplices in terror’

In his nightly address to the nation on Tuesday, Zelenskyy said Russia turning to Iran for the deadly weapons amounted to “the Kremlin’s recognition of its military and political bankruptcy.”

“For decades, they’ve been spending billions of dollars on their military-industrial complex, and in the end they went to bow to Tehran to get rather simple drones and missiles,” he said. “It won’t help them strategically anyway. It only further proves to the world that Russia is on the trajectory of its defeat and is trying to draw someone else into its accomplices in terror.”

While Iran’s denials of the accusations are brazen, the Kremlin’s denials are couched in characteristic ambiguity.

Asked on Tuesday if Russia has bought or used Iranian drones, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov replied, “No, we do not have such information.”

“The hardware that is used is Russian. You know that,” he said. “It has Russian names. You can address all other questions to the Defense Ministry.”

Ukrainians protest outside the Iranian Embassy in Kyiv on Monday against the regime’s provision of armed drones to Russia for use in its war against Ukraine. (Photo by Sergei Chuzavkov / AFP via Getty Images)

Ukrainians protest outside the Iranian Embassy in Kyiv on Monday against the regime’s provision of armed drones to Russia for use in its war against Ukraine. (Photo by Sergei Chuzavkov / AFP via Getty Images)

The Russian forces have given the Shahed-136 a Russian designation, the Geran-2.

Despite Balouji’s depiction of Iran as a party seeking a peaceful resolution through “constructive engagement” the regime has sided with the Kremlin from the outset.

In a phone conversation with President Vladimir Putin hours after the invasion began last February, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi backed his position on the “threat” posed by NATO.

In votes on four U.N. General Assembly resolutions since March critical of the Russian invasion, Iran abstained in the first two, voted against a third – which suspended Russia from the Human Rights Council – and chose not to vote on the fourth, a week ago.

Following the latest series of deadly strikes, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Tuesday he was submitting a proposal to Zelenskyy to cut diplomatic ties with Iran, “an accomplice of Russian crimes on our territory.”

Asked whether the U.S. would support such a move by Ukraine, State Department principal deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel said on Tuesday, “Iran’s provision of these weapons for use inside Ukraine and as part of Russia’s illegal and unjust invasion of Ukraine is abhorrent, and we would support whatever President Zelenskyy wanted to do in that regard.”

The Iranian regime’s ongoing denials about the drones come weeks after comments made by some of its own senior military officials boasting about the regime’s provision of drones to other countries.

Islamic Revolution Guards Corps commander Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami said in August that customers of Iranian drones include “a number of the world’s top ranking powers” and that Iran was training them in the use of the equipment.

Armed Forces chief of staff Maj. Gen. Mohammad Hossein Baqeri said the same month that “Iran has reached such a high level of expertise in the defense industry that major world powers are willing to acquire its achievements,” the Tasnim news agency reports.

 

See also:

Iranian Drones Give Russian Forces in Ukraine a Battlefield Boost (Oct. 7, 2022)

On Eve of Mideast Trip With Iran Threat in Focus, Sullivan Says Iran Will Provide Armed Drones to Russia (Jul. 12, 2022)



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