Iran warns Zelensky to stop saying it gives Russia drones: ‘Patience not endless’

Tehran rails at Ukrainian leader over speech to US Congress in which he accused the Islamic Republic of becoming an ally in Moscow’s ‘genocidal policy’ against Kyiv

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses a joint meeting of US Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, December 21, 2022. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses a joint meeting of US Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, December 21, 2022. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Iran on Thursday hit out at Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for his continued accusations — backed by the US and Europe — that the Islamic Republic is providing attack drones to Russia for mass use in strikes on Ukraine.

Addressing the US Congress on Wednesday, Zelensky railed at Moscow’s increasing use of missiles and drones to target Ukrainian cities out of Russian artillery range.

“Russia found an ally in this, in this genocidal policy: Iran,” he said. “Iranian deadly drones sent to Russia in hundreds and hundreds became a threat to our critical infrastructure. That is how one terrorist has found the other.

“It is just a matter of time [before] they will strike against your other allies if we do not stop them now. We must do it.”

Responding to Zelensky’s “repeated accusations and rude remarks,” Iran’s foreign ministry again denied supplying drones or other military equipment to Russia for use in Ukraine and asserted that Tehran respects all countries’ territorial integrity.

“Mr. Zelensky had better know that Iran’s strategic patience over such unfounded accusations is not endless,” spokesman Nasser Kanaani was quoted as saying in a ministry statement.

The statement said Kanaani also recommended that Zelensky learn “from the fate of some other political leaders who contented themselves with the US support.”

It was not clear who Kanaani was referring to, though he may have been referencing former Afghan president Ashraf Ghani, whose government was overthrown by the Taliban as the US withdrew its forces from the country last year.

An undated photograph released 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, File)

In recent weeks, Russia is believed to have used Iranian drones to attack Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, leaving tens of thousands without power as winter sets in.

Both the United States and European Union have sanctioned Iranian firms and entities involved in the transfer of drones to Russia.

On Sunday, Kanaani said Iran would not “seek permission from anyone” to expand ties with Russia, dismissing US concerns over a growing military partnership between Tehran and Moscow.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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