Iran admits supplying drones to Russia

Iran’s foreign minister on Saturday acknowledged for the first time that his country had supplied drones to Russia, insisting the transfer came before Moscow’s war on Ukraine that saw the Iranian-made drones bomb Kyiv.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian’s comments come after months of confusing messages from Iran about delivering weapons as Russia sends the drones crashing into Ukrainian energy infrastructure and civilian targets.

“We gave a limited number of drones to Russia months before the war in Ukraine,” Amirabdollahian told reporters after a meeting in Tehran.

Previously, Iranian officials had denied arming Russia in its war against Ukraine.

Earlier this week, Iran’s ambassador to the UN, Amir Saeid Iravani, called the allegations “totally baseless” and reiterated Iran’s stance of neutrality in the war.

The United States and its Western allies on the Security Council have called on Secretary General Antonio Guterres to investigate whether Russia used Iranian drones to attack civilians in Ukraine.

Even so, Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guards have vaguely bragged about supplying drones to the world’s biggest powers.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has touted the effectiveness of drones and mocked the West by wringing his hands over their danger.

During state-backed protests to mark the 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy on Friday, crowds held up signs of the triangle-shaped drones as a sign of national pride.

While acknowledging the shipment, Amirabdollahian claimed on Saturday that Iran was oblivious to the use of its drones in Ukraine.

He said Iran remained committed to ending the conflict.

“We have agreed with the Ukrainian Foreign Minister that he will submit to us any evidence he has regarding Russia’s use of Iranian drones in Ukraine,” he said.

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Christi C. Elwood