The United States on Friday expressed concern over a “large-scale defense partnership” between Russia and Iran, calling it “damaging” to Ukraine, Iran’s neighbors and the world.
Iran is accused by Western powers of supplying drones to Russia for its war against Ukraine, as Moscow batters the country’s energy infrastructure in search of an advantage in the bloody conflict.
Washington has previously condemned security cooperation between Iran and Russia, but on Friday described an extensive relationship involving equipment such as helicopters and fighter jets as well as drones, with the latter attracting new US sanctions. .
“Russia is looking to collaborate with Iran in areas like weapons development, training,” White House national security spokesman John Kirby told reporters.
Moscow “offers Iran an unprecedented level of military and technical support – which transforms their relationship into a full-fledged defense partnership,” he said.
“We have also seen reports that Moscow and Tehran are planning to establish a joint production line of deadly drones in Russia. We urge Iran to back down (and) not take these steps.”
Kirby said the United States would sanction three Russian-based entities active in “the acquisition and use of Iranian drones.”
The sanctions target the Russian Aerospace Forces, the 924th State Center for Unmanned Aviation and the Military Transport Aviation Command.
“The United States will continue to use every tool at its disposal to disrupt these transfers and impose consequences on those who engage in this activity,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a sanctions statement.
Last month, Tehran admitted sending drones to Russia, but insisted they were supplied before the invasion of Ukraine.
– “Sordid offers” –
Kirby said the United States is also concerned that Russia “intends to supply Iran with advanced military components,” including helicopters and air defense systems.
Iranian pilots have reportedly learned to fly advanced Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets in Russia, and Tehran could receive the plane within the next year, which would “significantly strengthen the Iranian air force compared to its regional neighbors,” Kirby said.
The United States also believes that Iran is planning to sell “hundreds of ballistic missiles” to Russia, he said.
British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly on Friday took aim at ‘squalid deals’ between Moscow and Tehran, saying in a statement that Iran had sent drones to Russia in exchange for ‘military and technical support’ from Moscow.
It will “increase the risk it poses to our partners in the Middle East and to international security,” Cleverly said, pledging that “the UK will continue to expose this desperate alliance and hold both countries to account.” .
Kirby on Friday announced a new $275 million aid package to help bolster Ukraine’s air defenses, against Russian drones in particular.
He said aid “will soon be on its way to provide Ukraine with new capabilities to strengthen its air defenses and counter the threats Ukraine faces from drones.”
The Pentagon has released details of the package, saying it includes counter-drone equipment, as well as ammunition for Himars sniper rocket systems, 80,000 155mm artillery shells, some 150 generators and weapons. other equipment.
The United States has previously said generators were being supplied to kyiv to help Ukraine meet its electricity needs amid repeated Russian strikes on energy infrastructure.
The latest package – made up of equipment taken from existing US stockpiles – brings Washington’s military aid to Ukraine since Russia’s February 24 invasion to more than $19.3 billion.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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