Monday, December 5, 2022

Iranian trainers on the ground help Russia with Ukraine drone attacks, US says

Iranian trainers on the ground help Russia with Ukraine drone attacks, US says

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States said that Iranian military trainers were in Crimea helping Russian forces operate Iranian-made drones to attack targets in Ukraine, adding an alarming strand to a war that has heightened geopolitical tensions.

Ukrainian citizens endured the first day of nationwide scheduled power outages since the war began eight months ago so repairs could be made to damaged or destroyed energy plants as winter approaches.

"We can confirm that Russian military personnel based in Crimea have been piloting Iranian UAVs and using them to conduct kinetic strikes across Ukraine, including in strikes against Kyiv in recent days," US State Department spokesman Ned Price told a daily briefing with reporters, referring to unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones.

"We assess that ... Iranian military personnel were on the ground in Crimea and assisted Russia in these operations," Price said. He said "we do have credible information" but he did not provide evidence.

Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and has used the southern peninsula to train soldiers and reopen Soviet-era military bases as part of the invasion of its neighbour.

There was no immediate public reaction from Tehran to the US accusations but Iran has denied the drones are Iranian-made. Russia has also denied using Iranian drones in Ukraine.

Russia's defence and foreign ministries did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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