Iran admits it supplied Russia with Shahed-136 drones before war in Ukraine

The government of Iran admitted it supplied Russia with military drones. However, the drones were delivered “months before the Ukraine war,” The Guardian cited the country’s foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian as saying. 

According to Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, only a limited number of military drones were delivered to Russia. The minister denied that Iran has been continuing to provide drones to Russia after the war ignited on February 24, 2022. 

“This fuss made by some western countries that Iran has provided missiles and drones to Russia to help the war in Ukraine – the missile part is completely wrong. […] The drone part is true, and we provided Russia a small number of drones months before the Ukraine war,” Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said on November 5, 2022.  

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Iran of hiding the full extent of its involvement in the conflict. 

“We shoot down at least ten Iranian drones every day, yet the Iranian regime claims that it supplied Russia with only a small number of them, and those before the start of the full-scale invasion. Only on November 4 alone, 11 Shahed drones were downed,” Reuters cited Zelenskyy as saying. 

In recent weeks, Ukraine has reported several attacks where Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones were used by Russia’s army to target civilian areas, including power plants and other electrical infrastructure across Ukraine. The Ukrainian military shared a series of images of what it claims to be the tail section of a Shahed-136 loitering munition.  

There have been multiple reports of Russia receiving reconnaissance and combat drones from Iran to supplement its capabilities in Ukraine. Cooperation between Iran and Russia greatly increased following the start of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, with the two countries reportedly signing agreements to cooperate in both civilian and military aerospace sectors. Russia admitted to using Iran’s experience to circumvent international sanctions.   

The Shahed-136, first revealed in 2021, is one of several drone designs manufactured by Iran and exported in recent years. 


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