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November 15, 2022 4:50 pm
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US Sanctions Iranian Manufacturer of Kamikaze Drones Used in Ukraine

avatar by Andrew Bernard

A view of drones during a military exercise in an undisclosed location in Iran, in this handout image obtained on August 24, 2022. Photo: Iranian Army/WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Handout via REUTERS

The US Treasury Department on Tuesday sanctioned an Iranian drone manufacturer accused of supplying kamikaze drones to Russia that were used in recent attacks on the Ukrainian cities of Kyiv and Odessa.

The sanctions are the latest US effort to counter the growing ties between Iran and Russia in support of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The US began sanctioning Iranian drone firms in September after announcing that Russia had received the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in August. Russia initially dismissed the US claims that it had received Iranian-made drones as “bogus.”

“Today’s action exposes and holds accountable companies and individuals that have enabled Russia’s use of Iranian-built UAVs to brutalize Ukrainian civilians,” said Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen. “This is part of our larger effort to disrupt Russia’s war effort and deny the equipment it needs through sanctions and export controls.”

A wave of Russian kamikaze drone attacks in October killed at least three people in a downtown Kyiv apartment building and damaged civilian infrastructure.

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In addition to the drone manufacturer, Shahed Aviation Industries Research Center, the Treasury Department also sanctioned two UAE-based transportation firms that coordinated transfer flights of the drones between Iran and Russia. The announcement noted that the UAE government is cooperating in the sanctions action against the two firms.

The Iran-Russia connection has also been a key element of Israeli efforts to gain additional US support against Iran. Israel’s President Isaac Herzog presented evidence of the similarities between Iranian UAVs and UAVs recovered by Ukrainian forces used by the Russians during his visit to Washington, DC, in late October. The Ukrainians for their part have highlighted Iran in seeking additional Israeli support for their war effort, with one senior Ukrainian official calling Russia “European Hezbollah,” referring to the Lebanese Shi’a terrorist group that is backed by the Iranian regime.

“Russia is a terrorist state that today uses Iran in its fight against the US and its allies, including Israel,” Andriy Yermak — chief of staff to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky — told an online meeting of international Jewish leaders in October.

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