A Ukraine official has accused Iran of responsibility for the “murders of Ukrainians” after Russia attacked cities with what Kyiv called “kamikaze drones” made in the Islamic Republic and allegedly sold to Moscow.
Ukraine has reported a barrage of Russian air attacks using Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones in recent weeks. Iran denies supplying the drones to Russia, while the Kremlin has not commented.
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Last month President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced the accreditation of the Iranian ambassador was revoked as a result of Russian forces using Iranian drones to attack Ukraine.
“Iran is responsible for the murders of Ukrainians,” Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak wrote on Twitter on Monday.
Iran is responsible for the murders of Ukrainians. Country that oppresses its own people is now giving ru-monsters weapons for mass murders in the heart of Europe. That is what unfinished business and concessions to totalitarianism mean. The case when sanctions are not enough…
— Михайло Подоляк (@Podolyak_M) October 17, 2022
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Monday called for EU sanctions on Iran, a few hours after Kyiv was hit by swarms of kamikaze drones, killing at least four people and wounding many others.
Kuleba said on Twitter he “requested more air defence and supply of ammunition [and] called on [the] EU to impose sanctions on Iran for providing Russia with drones”.
Later on Monday, the US State Department called the “deepening” alliance between Russia and Iran a “profound threat” that countries across the world should monitor, warning of further sanctions against Tehran’s weapons industry.
“Anyone doing business with Iran that could have any link to UAVs [drones] or ballistic missile developments or the flow of arms from Iran to Russia should be very careful and do their due diligence,” State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel told reporters. “The US will not hesitate to use sanctions or take actions against perpetrators.”
Samir Puri, a senior fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies based in Singapore, told Al Jazeera the Shahed-136 – “the kamikaze drone now being used and repurposed by the Russians” – was “bought off the shelf from Iran [and] moved to the war zone”.
Each drone is estimated to cost about $20,000, which Puri said is “actually quite a lot when you think about the fact they are by definition a one-use weapon”.
“The Russians will probably continue to find fixed targets, whether it’s Ukrainian military encampments, whether it’s cities that the Russians wish to terrorise by launching further bombing raids,” he added.
Iran has denied supplying Russia with weapon systems for the conflict.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran has by no means supplied any side with arms to be used in the war in Ukraine, and its policy is to oppose arming either side with the aim of ending the war,” Hossein Amirabdollahian, Iran’s foreign minister, said recently.
The first apparent evidence of the use of Iranian drones by Russia came in September when Ukraine’s military published several images of what it said was likely a Shahed-136 – painted in Russian colours and numbers – downed in Kupiansk in the Kharkiv region.