Iran U-Turns On Missiles and Drones – Or Claims To: Even after Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian insisted that Tehran “has not and will not” provide drones, missiles, or other weapons to Russia for use in Ukraine. Nonetheless, the evidence keeps piling up that precisely the opposite is happening.
Iran Sending Missiles and Drones Or Not?
Not only has Iran sent drones to Russia, but U.S. intelligence seems to suggest that medium-range missiles are now on their way to Russia and Iranian drone specialists have been deployed to Crimea.
It’s not just Iran denying the claims, either. The Kremlin also denied reports that Iran sent weapons to assist Russian forces this week.
Despite a wealth of evidence that Iranian Shahid-136 drones were used in recent strikes in Ukraine – including crystal clear video footage, photographs, and remains discovered on the ground – Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied that the transfer took place and directed questions to the Ministry of Defense.
“Russian equipment with Russian nomenclature is used,” he told reporters. “All further questions should be directed to the Defense Ministry.”
The purpose of these denials from Iran and Moscow is unclear, given the overwhelming evidence that suggests that Russian and Iranian leadership are engaging in deception.
Peskov’s comments, however, might reveal how the Kremlin intends to get away with this deception – specifically, his claim that Russian equipment with “Russian nomenclature” is being used on the battlefield. The Shahed-136 drones used in this week’s bombardment of Kyiv were renamed the Geran-2 by Russia, and they are technically “Russian equipment” in the sense that they are in possession of the Russian military.
Sending Drone Specialists to Crimea
According to two sources familiar with U.S. intelligence, Iran is not only providing weapons to Russia for use in Ukraine but military personnel have already been sent by Tehran to help train Russian soldiers how to use the equipment now arriving in Russia.
Dozens of military instructors were reportedly sent to Crimea and Kherson to assist Russian forces in launching a new offensive using kamikaze drones supplied by Iran. The offensive appears to have already begun, with at least 43 Iranian-made Shahed-136 suicide drones causing chaos, destruction, and death in the Ukrainian capital city on Monday morning.
The military instructors are understood to be from the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, a branch of the Iranian military recognized as a terrorist organization in the United States. This may also be a reason why Moscow and Tehran remain insistent that the drones were not sent and that the Iranian military is not training Russian soldiers.
A report from the New York Times also claimed that Iranian personnel are far away from the front lines and will not take part in the conflict directly. The report also said that it was unclear how many troops have been deployed.
Iran’s transfer of arms to Russia will be discussed at a private United Nations Security Council meeting on Wednesday, according to diplomats. The meeting will include representatives of the United States, France, and the United Kingdom.
What the Experts Told 19FortyFive
“I would be my weight in gold Iran has sent drones and missiles to Russia to fight in Ukraine or against Ukraine in some capacity,” explained a retired U.S. Army official who spoke to 19FortyFive on background. “The only question now is how much did they send.”
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.