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Iranian troops ‘directly engaged on the ground’ in Ukraine, White House says

‘We'll continue to impose and vigorously enforce sanctions on those who aid Iran support for Russia's war against Ukraine’

Andrew Feinberg
Thursday 20 October 2022 21:54 BST
Huge blast erupts as Ukrainian council building in Energodar struck by missile

Iranian troops are “directly engaged on the ground” in Crimea supporting Russian drone attacks on Ukraine’s infrastructure and civilian population, the White House has said.

The US government has confirmed that Russian attacks have employed unmanned aerial vehicles purchased from Tehran in attacks carried out against Ukrainian targets from bases on the peninsula that Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said.

“We assess that Iranian military personnel were on the ground in Crimea and assisted Russia in these operations,” said Mr Kirby, who said Russia has now purchased “dozens” of the Iranian-made drones and is “likely” to keep purchasing additional shipments of the unmanned weapons from Tehran.

Mr Kirby also said US officials are concerned that Russia’s “ongoing supply shortages” may lead Moscow to seek “advanced conventional weapons” from the Iranian government, including surface to surface missiles.

Both Russian and Iranian authorities have denied that Iranian-made drones have been used in Ukraine, but Mr Kirby said there is “extensive proof” that Russian forces are using such weapons “against both military and civilian targets”.

“Iran and Russia ... can lie to the world but they certainly can't hide the facts,” he said. “And the fact is this: Iran is now directly engaged on the ground through the provision of weapons that are impacting civilians, and civilian infrastructure in Ukraine, and in fact are killing civilians and destroying civilian infrastructure in Ukraine.”

Mr Kirby added that the US would “pursue all means to expose, deter and confront Iran's provision of these munitions against the Ukrainian people” and redouble efforts to enforce US sanctions on both the Russian and Iranian arms sectors with the aim of making it more difficult for Russia to sell weapons to Iran.

“We'll continue to impose and vigorously enforce sanctions on those who aid Iran support for Russia's war against Ukraine,” he said.

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