Ukraine war: Iranian military assists Russia in drone strikes – U.S.
The United States says Iranian military personnel was in Crimea helping the Russian military operate Iranian drones to conduct strikes across Ukraine.
U.S State Department spokesman Ned Price said the Iranian military helped in piloting Iranian UAVs and using them to conduct kinetic strikes across Ukraine, including in strikes against Kyiv in recent days.
“We assess that … Iranian military personnel were on the ground in Crimea and assisted Russia in these operations,” Kirby said. He added that it appeared a relatively small number of Iranians were involved.
Kirby indicated that the United States saw no need at this point to continue trying to negotiate with Tehran over Iran’s return to the Iran nuclear deal with six world powers in 2015.
The disclosure marked a fresh point of tension between the United States and Iran, whose crackdown on protesters following the death in September of a woman who was arrested in Tehran for “inappropriate attire” has been condemned by President Joe Biden.
Biden had sought a return to the deal to provide international monitoring of Iran’s nuclear program in return for a lifting of sanctions against Tehran.
Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, abandoned the agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, in 2018.
“We are way far apart with the Iranians in terms of a return to the deal, so we are simply not focused on that right now.
“They had demands that were well in excess of what the JCPOA was supposed to cover. We are not focused on the diplomacy at this point,” Kirby said
The United States is now concerned that Russia may seek to acquire advanced conventional weapons from Iran such as surface-to-surface missiles for use against Ukraine, Kirby said.
He said the United States is going to pursue all means to “expose, deter and confront” Iran’s supply of munitions to Russia, including more sanctions.
“Iran and Russia, they can lie to the world, but they certainly can’t hide the facts, and the fact is this: Tehran is now directly engaged on the ground,” he said.