WASHINGTON (HPD) — The United States said Thursday it has evidence that the Iranian military is “directly engaged on the ground” in Crimea supporting Russian drone strikes against Ukraine’s infrastructure and civilians.
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters that Iran has sent a “relatively small number” of personnel to Crimea — a part of Ukraine that Russia illegally annexed in 2014 — to help Russian troops launch Iranian-made drones against Ukraine.
“The information we have is that the Iranians have placed trainers and technical support in Crimea, but it is the Russians who are piloting,” Kirby said.
The United States first revealed this summer that Russia was buying Iranian unmanned aerial vehicles to launch against Ukraine. Tehran denies selling weapons to Russia.
Details about Iran’s support for Russia in the war are coming out at a sensitive time. President Joe Biden’s administration has imposed new sanctions against Tehran over the government’s brutal crackdown on protests in recent weeks, which began after the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman, who died in Iranian police custody.
Iranian morality police arrested Amini in September for failing to properly cover her hair with the Islamic veil, known as a hijab, which is compulsory for Iranian women. Amini died three days later while in detention.
This comes as Washington tries to bring Tehran back into compliance with the nuclear deal that was negotiated by the Barack Obama administration and later scrapped by Donald Trump.
In this regard, Kirby said that the US government has little hope of reviving the nuclear agreement with Iran soon.
“We’re not focused on diplomacy right now,” Kirby said. “We are focused on holding the regime accountable for the way it treats peaceful protesters in its country.”