Ukraine Angrily Rejects Claim That Iran is Scaling Back Military Assistance to Russia
Ukraine’s foreign ministry on Tuesday angrily rejected claims that Iran is scaling back its military assistance to Russia, warning Iranian leaders that the cost of supporting President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of his southern neighbor will far outweigh any benefits.
“No matter how they continue to twist this in Tehran, the Ukrainian side has made it clear,” Oleg Nikolenko, a spokesperson for the foreign ministry, said in comments that were widely reported across Ukrainian media.
“The consequences for supporting the war against Ukraine for Iran will be much larger than the potential benefit from its cooperation with Russia,” Nikolenko emphasized. He also revealed that Ukrainian military officials had held a meeting with their Iranian counterparts where they provided ample evidence of the use of Iranian weaponry.
As the war has ground on, Iran has boosted Russian efforts by supplying armed drones such as the Shahed-136 and 131 which have been used to devastating effect against Ukrainian population centers. An assessment published by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) on Dec. 10 noted that Russian “attacks against critical infrastructure targets in southern Ukraine” had been “using a significantly higher number of Iranian-made drones than in previous weeks.” The ISW assessment speculated that the “increased pace of Russian drone attacks may indicate that Russian forces accumulated more drones over the three-week period of not using them or that Russia has recently received or expects soon to receive a new shipment of drones from Iran.”
However, according to Israeli intelligence sources, Iran is scaling back its commitment to Russia, mindful of the historic protests against the Islamic Republic system currently raging across the country and anxious not to worsen its relations with much of the international community. On Monday, the EU announced sanctions against eight Iranian individuals and entities accused of supplying drones that have been used “indiscriminately by Russia against Ukrainian civilian population and infrastructure, causing horrendous destruction and human suffering.”
A report published by Axios on Tuesday quoted four unnamed Israeli officials who said that Iran was now focused on supplying missiles with a more limited range to its Russian ally. There has been widespread concern that Iran would funnel Zolfighar and Fateh-110 missiles, with respective ranges of 450 miles and 200 miles, to Moscow. However, under the terms of UN Security Council Resolution 2231, passed in 2015, Iran is forbidden from exporting missiles with a range greater than 200 miles.
The same report disclosed that “Iran plans to give Russia only missiles with a range of less than 300 kilometers and modify other missiles so they stay within the parameters of the resolution, the Israeli officials said.”