Iran ready for talks with Kyiv over ‘baseless’ claim it supplies Russia with drones

Iranian Foreign Ministry says its seeking to resolve ‘untrue’ accusations of military equipment provision to Moscow, as Ukrainian foreign minister suggests cutting diplomatic ties

A drone flies over Kyiv during an attack on October 17, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine (Sergei Supinsky/AFP)
A drone flies over Kyiv during an attack on October 17, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine (Sergei Supinsky/AFP)

TEHRAN, Iran — Tehran on Tuesday said it was ready for talks with Kyiv to clarify “baseless” claims that Iran is providing Russia with weapons and drones to be used in the war against Ukraine.

Kyiv and its Western allies have accused Moscow of using Iranian-made drones in attacks on Ukraine in recent weeks. The Kremlin said Tuesday it had no knowledge of its army using such weapons.

Calling the claims “baseless” and “based on false information,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani expressed “Iran’s readiness for negotiation and discussion with Ukraine to resolve these accusations,” a statement said.

“Claims made regarding the Islamic Republic sending weapons including military drones to be used in the Ukraine war” are “untrue,” the ministry statement added.

Earlier Tuesday, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said he had suggested to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksy that Kyiv cut diplomatic ties with Iran.

He cited “the amount of destruction Iranian drones have caused” in Ukraine and “the possible continuation of Iran’s supply of weapons to Russia.”

This undated photograph released by the Ukrainian military’s Strategic Communications Directorate shows the wreckage of what Kyiv has described as an Iranian Shahed drone downed near Kupiansk, Ukraine. (Ukrainian military’s Strategic Communications Directorate via AP)

Hours later, Zelensky said that Moscow’s widespread use of Iranian-made drones was a symbol of the Kremlin’s “military and political bankruptcy.”

“The very fact of Russia’s appeal to Iran for such assistance is the Kremlin’s recognition of its military and political bankruptcy,” Zelensky said in his daily address. But, he added, “strategically, it will not help them anyway.”

Kuleba also said his country plans to submit a formal request to Israel asking for immediate air defense assistance.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Kuleba are slated to speak by phone on Thursday, according to several Hebrew media reports.

On Monday, Kuleba urged the European Union “to impose sanctions on Iran for providing Russia with drones.”

Iran’s Foreign Ministry said that allegations of providing weapons to Russia were “part of the political and purposeful creation of atmosphere by the media organizations of some countries” against Tehran.

The Washington Post, citing US and allied security officials, reported Sunday that Iran planned to provide Russia with additional drones and also “surface-to-surface missiles.”

Iran’s Kanani said that “since the beginning of the conflict, the Islamic Republic… has always stressed the need to stop the conflict and resolve disputes through peaceful means.”

The United States warned Monday it would take action against companies and nations working with Iran’s drone program.

Last month, Kyiv decided to significantly reduce its diplomatic relations with Tehran over alleged arms deliveries to Russia.

Since the early days of the invasion, senior Ukrainian officials have asked Israel to send its missile defense systems, especially the Iron Dome, in public addresses and in private conversations with decision-makers in Jerusalem.

Israel has repeatedly rebuffed Kyiv’s requests for defensive weapons, specifically the missile defense systems that could be used to fend off Russian airstrikes, despite expressing sympathy for the country’s plight.

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