Iran has supplied Moscow with hundreds of one-way attack uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs) and is providing Russia with materials to build a drone manufacturing plant, according to newly declassified information released by the White House on June 9.
Support between the two countries was flowing both ways, National Security Council John Kirby said, with the Islamic Republic seeking billions of dollars worth of military equipment from Russia, including attack helicopters, radars and YAK-130 combat trainer aircraft.
“Russia has been offering Iran unprecedented defense cooperation, including on missiles, electronics, and air defense," Kirby said. “This is a full-scale defense partnership that is harmful to Ukraine, to Iran’s neighbors, and to the international community.”
He said the Iranian-built drones were shipped across the Caspian Sea, from Amirabad in Iran to Makhachkala, Russia, and then used by Russian forces against Ukraine.
"Russia has been using Iranian UAVs in recent weeks to strike Kyiv and terrorize the Ukrainian population," the spokesman said.
Iran has acknowledged providing drones to Russia but said they were sent before Russia's February 2022 invasion of Ukraine.
Kirby also said the United States had information that Russia was receiving materials from Iran required to build a drone manufacturing plant in Russia’s Alabuga special economic zone east of Moscow that could be fully operational early next year.
The United States “will continue to impose sanctions on the actors involved in the transfer of Iranian military equipment to Russia for use in Ukraine," he warned.
Also on June 9, the US Departments of Justice, Commerce, State and Treasury issued a new advisory "to alert the international community, private sector, and public to the threat posed by Iran’s procurement, development and proliferation of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)."