November 21, 2022 Russia-Ukraine News

Local residents look at parts of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), which Ukrainian authorities believe is an Iranian-made Shahed-136 drone, after a Russian drone strike in Kyiv, Ukraine on October 17. (Vladyslav Musiienko/Reuters)

Iran and Russia have reached an agreement to begin production of attack drones in Russia, according to a new intelligence assessment from a country that closely monitors Iran’s weapons program.

Iran is beginning to transfer plans and components for the drones to Russia after the initial deal was struck earlier this month, a source familiar with the assessment said.

US officials said Russia had received hundreds of drones from Tehran which had a deadly effect in Ukraine.

Earlier this month, the Iranian government for the first time admitted to sending a limited number of drones to Russia in the months before it began its invasion of Ukraine.

“Some Western countries have accused Iran of aiding the war in Ukraine by supplying drones…we supplied a limited number of drones to Russia in the months leading up to the start of the war in Ukraine,” he said. Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian told reporters in Tehran.

The goal is for Russia to produce thousands of new attack drones using Iranian components and blueprints, the source said. If the two countries go full steam ahead with their plan, it is expected that production could start in a few months and it is possible that the drones will be used by Russia on the battlefield in Ukraine next year. the source said.

It would be a move that would further cement the partnership between Tehran and Moscow and likely provoke significant anger from Ukraine and its Western allies, including the United States.

The Washington Post first reported the deal.

More background: These efforts come after CNN and other media reported that Iran was preparing to send weapons, including short-range surface-to-surface ballistic missiles and more attack drones to Russia before the end of the war. year.

The source familiar with the assessment said the reports had raised concerns in Iran, which appeared to have prompted the regime to rethink its approach with the plan that Russia would manufacture the drones rather than Iran would transfer them directly.

The production process for attack drones is not complicated compared to the production of other weapons, the source explained.

CNN has asked the Russian Embassy in Washington and the Iranian Mission to the United Nations for comment.

When asked to comment on the assessment, White House National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said, “Iran and Russia can lie to the world, but they can’t hide the facts: Tehran helps kill Ukrainian civilians by supplying weapons and assisting Russia in its operations. This is another sign of the isolation of Iran and Russia.

Why this agreement is important: Drones have played an important role in the conflict since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in late February, but their use has increased since the summer when the United States and Kyiv said Moscow had acquired drones from Iran. In recent weeks, these Iranian drones have been used to target critical energy infrastructure in Ukraine.

Iranian drones are known as “wandering munitions” because they are capable of circling for a period of time in an area identified as a potential target and only strike once an enemy asset is identified.

They are small, portable and can be easily thrown, but their main advantage is that they are difficult to detect and can be fired from a distance.

Christi C. Elwood