European Union countries have adopted sanctions on Iran over Iranian-made drones supplied to Russia and used in attacks on Ukraine, the EU Council’s Czech presidency has said.
“After 3 days of talks, EU ambassadors agreed on measures against entities supplying Iranian drones that hit Ukraine,” the presidency said on Twitter on Thursday.
Ukraine has accused Russia of using Iranian-made “kamikaze” drones in attacks on cities and energy infrastructure in recent weeks. It says its military has shot down more than 220 Iranian drones since mid-September. The mayor of the capital, Kyiv, said Russia killed four people in a drone attack on Monday.
Iran has repeatedly denied allegations that it has supplied drones to Russia as “unfounded and unsubstantiated”. The Kremlin says it has no knowledge of Russian forces using Iranian drones in Ukraine.
Russia denies targeting civilians in the conflict, which began on February 24 when Russian forces launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
The punitive EU measures were expected to enter into force later on Thursday.
“EU states decided to freeze the assets of 3 individuals and 1 entity responsible for drone deliveries,” the presidency said.
“The EU is also prepared to extend sanctions to 4 more Iranian entities that already featured in a previous sanctions list,” it said.
European Council chief Charles Michel welcomed the move as he prepares to host the 27 EU leaders at a summit in Brussels this week.
“We take swift action against Iran who supports Russia’s war in Ukraine,” he said.
Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala said the sanctions were “aimed at the persons and entities that manufacture and supply the drones”.
“This is our clear response to the Iranian regime providing Russia with drones, which it uses to murder innocent Ukrainian citizens,” he said.
Later on Thursday, the UK announced sanctions on three Iranian generals and an arms firm over Russia’s use of Iranian drones to bomb Ukraine, matching the EU measures.
The Treasury added Iranian drone maker Shahed Aviation Industries and three top Iranian military officials to its sanctions list, citing the supply of drones to Russia “for use in their illegal invasion of Ukraine”.
“Iran’s support for Putin’s brutal and illegal war against Ukraine is deplorable,” British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said. “This is clear evidence of Iran’s destabilising role in global security.”
The sanctions come a day after Iran imposed sanctions on several British individuals and institutions in what appeared to be a countermeasure to London’s stance over the protests that have gripped Iran during the past month following the death of a young woman in police custody.
The sanctions, published on the Iranian foreign ministry’s Telegram page, include a ban on issuing visas and other ineffectual moves such as the seizure of designated individuals’ assets in Iran.
BBC Persian, the intelligence organisation Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), and people such as Conservative politicians Stephen Crabb and Tom Tugendhat appear on Tehran’s sanctions list.
The foreign ministry said individuals and entities were targeted by Tehran for “their intentional actions in support of terrorism and terrorist groups, inciting and instigating terrorism and violence, propagating hatred, and violation of human rights”.
“In imposing these sanctions, the Islamic Republic of Iran holds the British government responsible and accountable for supporting terrorists and human rights abusers who organise and incite riots and terrorist acts in Iran from British soil.”
On October 10, Britain placed sanctions on senior Iranian security officials and the so-called “morality police”, saying the force had used threats of detention and violence to control what Iranian women wear and how they behave in public.
The EU imposed sanctions on the “morality police” and senior Iranian officials on Monday over the continuing crackdown on anti-government protests.