Ukraine to reduce Iran embassy presence over Russia drone attacks

Military authorities in southern Ukraine have said they shot down four Shahed-136 ‘kamikaze’ unmanned aerial vehicles.

Zelenskyy in dark green shirt with Ukrainian flags behind him
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced the downgrading of relations with Iran in a late-night video address on September 23, 2022 [File: Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via Reuters]

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said the accreditation of the Iranian ambassador will be revoked and Iranian diplomatic staff in Kyiv reduced as a result of Russian forces using Iranian drones to attack Ukraine.

Ukrainian forces had shot down a total of eight Iranian-made drones in the conflict so far, Zelenskyy said in a late-night video address on Friday.

”Today the Russian army used Iranian drones for its attacks on Dnipropetrovsk region and Odesa. I instructed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to strongly react to this fact,” Zelenskyy said in his address.

“Six of these Iranian drones were downed by our air defences of the East and South commands. One more was brought to ground by air defences of the navy … And just now I am being told about the downing by air defences of the South command of another strike Iranian drone,” he said.

“In response to such an unfriendly act, the Ukrainian side has decided to deprive the ambassador of Iran of his accreditation and also to significantly reduce the number of diplomatic staff of the Iranian embassy in Kyiv,” he said.

Iran has denied claims by Kyiv and Washington that it had supplied drones to Russia, and officials in Tehran had previously said Iran would not assist either side in the war as it backed its resolution through dialogue.

Oleg Nikolenko, spokesperson for the Ukrainian foreign ministry, said in a tweet on Saturday that in response to the supply of weapons to Russia, “we announced the revocation of accreditation of the Iranian Ambassador in Kyiv, and a significant drawdown of diplomatic personnel at the Iranian embassy”.

Ukraine’s foreign ministry said earlier that “the temporary charge d’affaires of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Ukraine was summoned” over the issue, Agence France-Presse reported.

A ministry statement said the envoy was told the supply of Iranian weapons to Russia “directly contradicts the position of neutrality, respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine” and was “an unfriendly act that deals a serious blow to Ukraine-Iran relations”.

Military authorities in southern Ukraine said in a statement that they had shot down four Shahed-136 “kamikaze” unmanned aerial vehicles over the sea near the port of Odesa.

The air force said separately that for the first time it had brought down a Mohajer-6, a larger Iranian drone, the Ukrainska Pravda newspaper reported.

The United Kingdom’s defence ministry earlier this week supported a Ukrainian claim that Ukraine’s forces likely shot down an Iranian-made drone that was used by Russia.

In its military intelligence update on Wednesday, the ministry said it was “highly likely” that Russia has deployed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) made by Iran in the nearly seven-month war in Ukraine.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies