Russia has started attacking Ukraine with Iranian drones, says White House

Shortly after Russian President Vladimir Putin said yesterday that the counteroffensive by Ukraine had begun and that his military was repelling all such advances, the White House said that Russia had received hundreds of attack drones from Iran and was hitting Ukraine with these Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).

Russian President Vladimir Putin said that his country was repelling the counteroffensive by Ukraine. Photo courtesy: Instagram/vladimir.putin_official

Citing newly declassified information, the United States said that the Iranian drones had been shipped across the Caspian Sea. “Russia has been using Iranian UAVs in recent weeks to strike Kyiv and terrorise the Ukrainian population, and the Russia-Iran military partnership appears to be deepening,” said a statement from White House spokesman John Kirby. “We are also concerned that Russia is working with Iran to produce Iranian UAVs from inside Russia,” the statement added.

The Twitter page Defense of Ukraine (@DefenceU), the official account of the Ukraine Ministry of Defence, said in a post today that “last night, Russians attacked Kharkiv, Poltava, and Odesa regions” with cruise missiles, short-range Iskander missiles, and Iranian-made drones.

The White House statement claimed that Russia and Iran were working together to build a drone manufacturing plant inside Russia and that the plant could start churning out drones from early 2024. “We are releasing satellite imagery of the planned location of this UAV manufacturing plant in Russia’s Alabuga Special Economic Zone,” said Kirby.

Iran, which is under US sanctions, is reportedly engaged in a largescale weapons exchange with Russia, in order to bypass payment hurdles. Kirby said, “Russia has been offering Iran unprecedented defence co-operation, including on missiles, electronics, and air defence.”

Source: Twitter/@uarealitynow

He said, “This is a full-scale defence partnership that is harmful to Ukraine, to Iran’s neighbours, and to the international community. We are continuing to use all the tools at our disposal to expose and disrupt these activities, including by sharing this with the public — and we are prepared to do more.” The White House spokesman said that Iran and Russia would be held “accountable” for using attack drones in violation of United Nations rules.

Yesterday, in order to support Ukraine’s counter-offensive efforts — the country has been lobbying for military equipment from NATO allies ever since Russia invaded in February 2022 — the Pentagon, headquarters of the US Department of Defense, announced a new commitment of USD2.1 billion in long-term weapons support. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked the US profusely for this support.

Meanwhile, Ukraine and Russia blamed each other for the continued shelling in and around Kherson, which has been flooded by a massive dam breach a few days ago — about 600 sq. km is under water — and is seeing evacuation operations on a war footing.