Iran accused Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky of “anti-Iranian propaganda” on Saturday after he called for Tehran to stop supplying Russia with deadly drones.
“The Ukrainian president’s repeat of delusional claims against the Islamic Republic of Iran is in line with the anti-Iranian propaganda and media war aimed at attracting as many arms and financial aid as possible from Western countries,” Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said in a statement carried by Iranian media, cited by the Reuters news agency.
On Wednesday, Zelensky said Iranians were being dragged to “the dark side of history” due to Tehran’s supply of deadly drones to Moscow.
“The simple question is this: what is your interest in being an accomplice to Russian terror?” Zelensky said.
“What is the benefit to Iran of such cynical killing? By Russian hands, but with your weapons, your weapons… your Shaheds, which terrorize Ukraine every night, mean only that the people of Iran are being driven deeper and deeper into the dark side of history,” Zelensky said, according to Reuters.
Russia’s drone industry has been hit by international sanctions and a number have been shot down since the start of its invasion, prompting Moscow to import drones from Iran. Iran has claimed it provided drones to Russia prior to the start of the war, but not since.
The Shahed drones that Russia has purchased from Tehran, to deadly effect, are packed with explosives and programmed to loiter overhead until they nosedive into a target.
Kyiv has begun testing an Israel-developed early warning system to sound an alert of incoming Russian strikes, including drones, as part of a pilot program in the coming months.
However, the White House has said for months that it has seen troubling signs that the military cooperation between Moscow and Tehran could begin to flow both ways.
Iran is seeking to purchase additional military equipment from Russia, including attack helicopters, radars, and YAK-130 combat trainer aircraft, according to the White House. And Iran recently announced that it had finalized a deal to buy Su-35 fighter jets from Russia.
The White House has also previously said Russia and Iran were considering starting a drone assembly line in Russia for the Ukraine conflict.