The Iranian government acknowledged for the first time on Saturday that it had sent a limited number of drones to Russia in the months before the start of its invasion of Ukraine.
Statement by Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian comes after the previous denials by Tehran that he had supplied Russia with weapons for use in Ukraine, claiming that he “has not done so and will not do so”. Amirabdollahian did not say whether the drones supplied to Moscow were the type carrying explosives.
“Some Western countries have accused Iran of helping the war in Ukraine by supplying drones and missiles to Russia. The missile part is completely wrong. The drone part is correct, we supplied a limited number of drones to Russia in the months leading up to the start of the war in Ukraine,” Amirabdollahian told reporters in Tehran.
Self-detonating drones have play an important role in the conflict since Russia launched its invasion in late February. They are able to circle for a period of time in an area identified as a potential target and only strike once an enemy asset is identified.
Russia has launched a series of drone attacks across Ukraine in recent weeks, hitting vital civilian infrastructure and sow terror in Ukrainian cities away from the front lines of war. Ukrainian officials said last week they shot down more than 300 Iranian drones.
Officials from a Western country that closely monitors Iran’s weapons program also told CNN that Iran is preparing to send more attack dronesas well as short-range surface-to-surface ballistic missiles to Russia for use in its war against Ukraine.
Iran’s latest arms shipment to Russia included around 450 drones, officials said, which the Russians have previously used for lethal purposes in Ukraine.
Amirabdollahian claimed that Tehran had reached an agreement with Ukraine to examine the evidence that Russia had used iranian drones in the war.
“We have agreed with the Foreign Minister of Ukraine to provide us with all the documents they have that indicate that Russia used Iranian drones in Ukraine,” he said, adding that an Iranian delegation had planned to meet with Ukrainian officials in Europe to discuss the matter, but that the rally was canceled by Kyiv.
“We had such an appointment two weeks ago in a European country, a military and political delegation visited this European country, but unfortunately at the last minute the Ukrainian delegation did not attend due to pressure from the United States and some European countries, especially Germany,” Amirabdollahian added.
Iran’s foreign minister said he spoke to his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba last week and they agreed to let Iran review all the evidence Ukraine has in the coming days.
“Of course, if it is proven that Russia used Iranian drones in the war against Ukraine, we will not remain indifferent to this issue,” Amirabdollahian said.
“Our position on the war in Ukraine is to end the war, bring the parties back to negotiations and return the displaced people to their homes,” he continued.
CNN’s Kylie Atwood contributed to this report.