Iran preparing to send hundreds of drones to Russia, US says

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan says Tehran is also planning to train Russians in use of armed unmanned aircraft

Drones in an underground base in an unknown location in Iran. EPA / Iranian Army Office
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Iran is preparing to send hundreds of drones to Russia for use in Ukraine, including some that could be used as weapons, the US said on Monday.

US intelligence also indicated that Iran is preparing to train Russian troops to use these unmanned aircraft as soon as July, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said.

“Our information indicates that the Iranian government is preparing to provide Russia with up to several hundred UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles], including weapons-capable UAVs on an expedited timeline,” Mr Sullivan said.

He said it was unclear if Iran had already provided Russia with these drones.

The remarks come a day before US President Joe Biden's visit to Israel and Saudi Arabia, where Iran's nuclear capabilities will be a key topic of discussion between him and other regional leaders.

Mr Sullivan said Iran provided similar drones to Yemen's Houthi rebels, allowing them to attack Saudi Arabia before a ceasefire was brokered this year.

“This is just one example of how Russia is looking to countries like Iran for capabilities that are also being used … or have been used before we got the ceasefire in place in Yemen to attack Saudi Arabia,” he said.

Ukrainian forces have used drones to fend off invading Russian forces and the US has supplied Kyiv with the machines as part of the arsenal it has supplied to the country since the invasion.

“We will continue to do our part to help sustain the effective defence of Ukraine and to help the Ukrainians show that the Russian effort to try to wipe Ukraine off the map cannot succeed,” Mr Sullivan said.

Moscow claimed that Ukraine launched a drone strike on an oil refinery in southern Russia last month. Ukraine's military did not confirm it had carried out the attack.

Bloomberg contributed to this report

Updated: July 12, 2022, 4:55 AM