Iran has started training Russian officials on using Iranian-made drones, a US official said Wednesday, after Washington previously accused Moscow of looking to Tehran as it struggles in Ukraine.
“During the last several weeks, Russian officials conducted training in Iran as part of the agreement for UAV transfers from Iran to Russia,” the official told Al Arabiya English on Wednesday.
The information provided is based on downgraded intelligence, the official said.
The Biden administration first revealed last month that it had information about Russia and Iran discussing the potential sale of Iranian drones for Russia to use in Ukraine.
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said that the US had intelligence suggesting that Iran was preparing to provide Russia with “several hundred” drones to use in its war on Ukraine, with training sessions set to begin as early as July.
But when asked at the end of July about these reports, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told Al Arabiya English that the US had seen no indications of actual delivery or purchase of Iranian drones by the Russian Ministry of Defense.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that Iran’s foreign ministry denied being involved in a drone program for Russia.
And also, last month, Sullivan showed satellite imagery of what he said was a Russian delegation in Iran receiving “a showcase of Iranian attack-capable UAVs.”
While Russia looks to Iran to help in its war on Ukraine, Kyiv continues to receive billions of dollars of weapons from the US and other Western powers.
Just this week, the US announced its largest-ever weapons package for Ukraine under the so-called presidential drawdown authority. The package, estimated to be worth $1 billion, will include ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), NASAMS surface-to-air missile system ammunition and as many as 50 M113 armored medical transports.
Monday’s announcement brings the total US military aid given to Ukraine since last year to $9.8 billion.