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February 27, 2023 1:09 pm

Iran ‘Only Country’ Willing to Supply Russia With Weapons, Ukraine Intelligence Chief Says

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Ukrainian intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov. Photo: Reuters/Valentyn Ogirenko

Iran is the only country willing to supply Russia with weaponry to prosecute its invasion of Ukraine, with other countries seemingly avoiding requests from Moscow to purchase arms, the head of the Ukrainian intelligence service said on Monday.

In an interview with the Voice of America’s Ukrainian-language service marking the first anniversary of the Russian onslaught, Kyrylo Budanov — the head of the intelligence department at Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense — said that Iran’s willingness to supply Russian President Vladimir Putin with weapons contrasted sharply with the positions of other countries aligned with Moscow, including China, which was warned by the US State Department on Sunday that transferring arms to Moscow would be a “bad mistake.”

“As of now, I don’t think China will agree to transfer arms to Russia,” Budanov said. “I don’t see any signs that this is even being discussed.”

“The only country that actually transfers more or less serious weapons is Iran,” he continued. Iran has supplied Russia with hundreds of attack drones that have been used to devastating effect in Ukraine.

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As well as facing Chinese reluctance, Russia has also encountered refusals from Serbia, whose government is unwilling to supply Putin with arms despite widespread sympathy for Moscow among the Serb population. Budanov said he had also received reports that Russia was attempting to purchase weapons from North Korea and Myanmar, but was not aware that these had been successful.

“As of now, Russia is limited to Iran in terms of weapons,” Budanov emphasized.

The intelligence chief underlined his conviction that Russia was not materially in a position to endlessly advance its war on Ukraine.

“Russia is not ready for long-term hostilities,” Budanov said. “They [say that] they are ready for a ‘war for decades,’ but in reality their resources are quite limited, both in time and in volume. And they know it very well.”

Over the weekend, US officials stressed their concern over the increasingly close alliance between Russia and Iran.

“It’s moving at a pretty fast clip in a very dangerous direction right now, in the sense that we know that the Iranians have already provided hundreds of armed drones to the Russians, which they’re using to inflict pain on Ukrainian civilians and Ukrainian civilian infrastructure,” CIA Director William Burns told CNN on Sunday.

Iran’s alliance with Russia has resulted in growing calls from Ukrainian leaders for Israel to militarily back the democratic government in Kyiv. However, Israel has been wary of doing so, pointing to the Russian military presence in neighboring Syria.

At a press conference last Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky declined to comment on whether Israel is providing military aid “so as not to risk harming relations,” but asserted that relations between Jerusalem and Kyiv “are improving.”

During the last week, Zelensky met in the Ukrainian capital with both Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen and separately with Knesset members Yuli Edelstein and Ze’ev Elkin.

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