Iran has issued a warning to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that its “patience” over accusations of supplying Russia with deadly kamikaze drones is not “endless”. Describing the claims made by Ukraine, as well as numerous western Governments, that Iran is offering weapons to Russia as “baseless” and “rude”, the nation’s foreign ministry focused on Mr Zelenskys’ latest speech at the US Congress on Wednesday, when he described the regime as “terrorists”.
Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani accused Mr Zelensky of making “repeated accusations and rude remarks against the Islamic Republic of Iran”.
He described the comments, made during the address to the US Congress, as further examples of “baseless accusations regarding drones” and denied Iran has provided either side with military equipment for use in the war.
Kanaani said: “Mr Zelensky had better know that Iran’s strategic patience over such unfounded accusations is not endless.”
He added that Mr Zelensky should “draw a lesson from the fate of some other political leaders who contented themselves with the US support”, suggesting that such backing would eventually wane.
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During his address before a joint meeting of Congress on Wednesday, President Zelensky spoke about Russia’s alleged use of Iranian kamikaze drones to strike energy infrastructure and civilian cities in Ukraine.
He said that Iran had become an ally to Vladimir Putin’s “genocidal policy”.
He said: “Iranian deadly drones sent to Russia in hundreds—in hundreds became a threat to our critical infrastructure. That is how one terrorist has found the other.”
Later in the address, Mr Zelensky mentioned the possibility that Russia would send Iranian drones to attack on Christmas Eve and force Ukrainian civilians into bomb shelters.
Iran has consistently denied supplying Russia with the Shahed-136 kamikaze drones but remains of the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have been discovered by Ukrainian forces in cities across the country.
As early as July, national security adviser Jake Sullivan suggested the US had information that Iran was preparing to send several hundred of the drones to Russia.
Russia reportedly received the first shipment of the UAVs a month after Putin visited Tehran in July and met with Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Two months later, in October, Russia significantly accelerated their assault on Ukrainian infrastructure, making use of what appeared to be Iranian Shahed-136 drones.
The British Ministry of Defence wrote in an intelligence update earlier this month that Russia had now likely been resupplied with Iranian drones after depleting its initial stock.
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The West has also expressed concern that a deeper military partnership between the two autocratic nations is emerging, with UK defence minister Ben Wallace warning that Iran has become one of Russia’s “top military backers”.
On December 9, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby claimed Russia was preparing to provide air defence systems, helicopters and fighter jets to Iran in exchange for the hundreds of Iranian kamikaze drones.
Mr Kirby said Russia and Iran were also considering standing up a drone assembly line for the Ukraine conflict.
Meanwhile, Russia was training Iranian pilots on the Sukhoi Su-35 fighter. Mr Kirby added that Iran could receive deliveries of the plane within the year.
“These fighter planes will significantly strengthen Iran’s air force relative to its regional neighbours,” Mr Kirby said.
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