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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

U.S. Accuses Iran of Providing ‘Technical Support’ for Russian Drones Targeting Civilians

The Russian forces had reportedly encountered technical challenges in operating the drones

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UKRAINE: Iran has significantly deepened its ties with Russia by increasing its involvement in the alleged transfer of Iranian-made kamikaze drones. “Along with this, the country is providing appropriate technical support to the Russian military for lethal use in killing Ukrainian civilians,” the White House said.

The national security council spokesperson, John Kirby, said on Thursday that it was the U.S.’s understanding that the Iranian advisers were in Crimea to provide adequate training and maintenance but not to physically pilot any drones after Russian forces reportedly faced issues in handling drone hardware.

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“The information we have is that the Iranians have put trainers and tech support in Crimea, but it’s the Russians who are doing the piloting,” Kirby said.

“Tehran is now directly engaged on the ground and through the provision of weapons… that are killing civilians and destroying civilian infrastructure. These are systems that the Russian armed forces are not familiar with using, and they are organically manufactured Iranian UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles]. The Russians just don’t have anything in their inventory. “

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“There were operator and system failures early on. Either they weren’t being piloted appropriately and properly and were failing to reach targets, or the systems themselves were suffering failures and not performing to the standards that apparently the customers expected, “Kirby added.

“So the Iranians decided to move in with some trainers and some technical support to help the Russians use them with better lethality.”

UK and US impose sanctions

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The U.K. and the U.S. have slapped sanctions on Iran for its provision of Shahed-136s to the Russian forces for active use on the battlefield. Iran has also supposedly provided a delta-wing unmanned aircraft designed to fly into a target and explode on impact, which Russian forces have used extensively against Ukrainian cities.

Meanwhile, Moscow has repeatedly denied any involvement with Iran or any use of military hardware by its ally. Russia has been caught in its own trap, as Tehran officials have confirmed it and said they would also supply ballistic missiles to help replenish Russia’s dwindling armoury.

The Iranian drones have proved effective in Russian president Vladimir’s effort to withdraw Ukrainians by strategically targeting civilian infrastructure and power plants to dismantle electricity networks, as thousands of Ukrainian civilians are reeling under the pressure of procuring food, shelter, and power in the approaching winter.

Yesterday, Kyiv declared a schedule of necessary power cuts to help stabilise the country’s vanishing power supply, which has been badly compromised by more than 300 Russian drone and missile attacks over the past 10 days as the weather turns cooler.

The country’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, said people needed to be “especially conscious of electricity consumption” from 7 a.m. and avoid using unnecessary appliances as he warned of local “stabilization blackouts.”

Russia continued its threats as three energy facilities were destroyed by Russian shelling, Zelensky said, with a further strike reported in the region of the southern city of Kryvyi Rih overnight amid growing official alarm over the impact of the Russian campaign.

In Zelensky’s video remarks at an EU summit on Thursday, he noted that Russia hoped to provoke a new wave of migration to European countries. “Russian terror against our energy facilities is aimed at creating as many problems with electricity and heat as possible for Ukraine this autumn and winter, so that more Ukrainians go to European countries,” he said.

Moreover, on Thursday, Zelensky accused Moscow of planting mines at a hydroelectric dam in the Russian-occupied Kherson region, posing a threat to a 400-kilometer long Soviet-built canal network.

“According to our information, the aggregator and dam of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant were mined by Russian terrorists,” Zelensky said in his daily address.

The Ukrainian leader added that “if the dam is destroyed… the North Crimean canal will simply disappear,” and this would be “a catastrophe on a grand scale”.

Kirby has said that the U.S. would take strict, necessary action against Iran’s entry into the conflict.

“The United States is going to pursue all means to expose, deter, and confront Iran’s provision of these munitions against the Ukrainian people. We’re going to continue to vigorously enforce all US sanctions on both the Russian and Iranian arms trade,” he said.

“We’re going to make it harder for Iran to sell these weapons to Russia. We’re going to help the Ukrainians have what they need to defend themselves against these threats,” reiterating U.S. solidarity with the Ukrainian cause.

Additionally, Russia’s nearest neighbour and ally, Belarus, has not yet unleashed a military force to support the Russian forces on the Ukrainian battlefield, despite declaring on October 10 the creation of a Belarussian-Russian joint force on the northern front.

Kirby expressed doubts about whether Belarus would go ahead with its pledge or not. “It remains to be seen whether this constitutes some sort of major strategic shift by Belarus to get involved in Ukraine,” he said.

Also Read: Ukraine Forces March toward Kherson, Kyiv Orders Energy Curbs

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