A CNN report, citing two US intelligence officials, says that Iran has sent military personnel to Crimea to help train Russian military on the use of Iranian-built drones. Moscow has reportedly been attacking Ukraine with these drones and causing massive destruction. These drones are being launched from Crimea and targeting Ukrainian cities and energy infrastructure.
The drones are an indication that Tehran and Moscow are becoming increasingly close. State Department principal deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel has raised concerns about the relationship and said it should be seen as “a profound threat.”
One of the sources said that apparently dozens of such trainers have been sent to Crimea, although it is not known whether they are still there or have returned to Iran. The officials further said that initially Russian military received training in Iran itself. But when they started testing and deploying these drones in August, they started facing problems. The Iranian trainers then started travelling to Crimea to help them.
Two types of missiles have been provided by Iran. One is Shaheeds, which explode on impact and have a range of upwards of 1,000 miles, and the Mohajer-6, which can both carry missiles and be used for surveillance.
Meanwhile, the US, France and the United Kingdom are also planning to hold discussion over the matter during a closed UN Security Council meeting. The three countries say that the transfer of Iranian-made drones to Russia violates UN Security Council Resolution 2231, according to which certain arms transfers to or from Iran are banned.
US believes that Russia’s decision to acquire these drones from Iran shows that Moscow is facing a crunch of ammunition. The sanctions imposed by western countries have made things worse. Patel said that the United States would “continue to take practical, aggressive steps to make these weapons sales harder, including sanctions, export control actions against any entities involved.”