Ukraine killed Iranians who were advising Russians on how to pilot Iranian-made drones in Crimea, Ukraine’s top security official confirmed, per a report.
“You shouldn’t be where you shouldn’t be,” Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s national security and defense council, said in an interview in Kyiv, according to The Guardian.
“They were on our territory. We didn’t invite them here, and if they collaborate with terrorists and participate in the destruction of our nation we must kill them.”
Danilov said that the Iranians were in occupied Crimea to help Russians operate the Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones.
The White House said in October that Iran had sent advisers to Crimea to provide drone training and maintenance to Russian pilots.
Iran initially denied having supplied Russia with drones, which are often called “kamikaze” or “suicide” drones because they detonate on impact.
Ukraine claimed that Russia has used the drones to strike infrastructure targets and power stations across the country.
Despite public denials, a Russian defense official was caught on a hot mic in October admitting that it was an open secret that the Kremlin had in fact imported Iranian drones.
Iran has since admitted to sending a “small number” of drones to Russia, but claimed it did so months before the war in Ukraine began.
Ukraine has cast doubt on Iran’s claims, and the military has claimed it has evidence to suggest some of the drones were supplied after Moscow’s invasion in February.
Danilov’s comments confirm previous reports in the Israeli press from October which said that 10 Iranian advisers have been killed through Ukrainian strikes on Crimea.
Danilov confirmed that there had been casualties, but did not say how many.
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“The Iranians keep insisting that they are not suppliers of weapons to the Russian Federation but we need confirmation. Do we have this confirmation as of today? No we don’t.” Danilov said.
“We understand these things don’t fly without [people] learning how to operate them, and the Russians don’t have the brains to figure it out themselves.”
The UK and the EU have announced sanctions on Iran for providing Russia with the Shahed-136 drones.
Alia Shoaib is a junior news reporter on the weekend team, based in London. She was previously an editorial intern at The Economist’s 1843 magazine and a social media fellow at The Economist. Prior to that she was a part-time researcher for The Times foreign desk. Alia has written articles for the The Independent, The Guardian, 1843 Magazine, The Economist, and others. She also has an MA in International Journalism from City, University of London. This first appeared in Insider.