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Ukraine: Iran stalling missile supply to Russia due to diplomatic pressure, protests

Kyiv official says Russia running low on Iranian drones; claims Moscow offered to send its own experts on suppressing dissent to Tehran, which is dealing with anti-regime protests

Police officers look at collected fragments of the Russian rockets that hit Kharkiv, in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Dec. 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Libkos)
Police officers look at collected fragments of the Russian rockets that hit Kharkiv, in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Dec. 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Libkos)

Iran is dragging its feet on supplying Russia with ballistic missiles for use in Ukraine due to diplomatic pressure and political unrest within the Islamic Republic, a report said Tuesday, citing a senior Ukrainian official.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak told the Guardian that Russia was running low on Iranian kamikaze drones.

“Iran has come under huge diplomatic pressure and the protests have also raised pressure on the government,” Podolyak said, referring to deadly anti-regime demonstrations in Iran sparked by anger over the death of Mahsa Amini in the custody of morality police in September.

“The government is starting to lose its grip on Iranian society and their inner domestic problems are growing,” he continued. “That’s why they just don’t have time for dealing with Russia. It’s not their priority.”

Podolyak said that as far as he knows, talks about the missies are still ongoing and that as an incentive Russia had offered to provide Tehran with its own experts on suppressing dissent to quell the protests.

“So the negotiations are ongoing, but as of today, no missiles have been transferred to Russia,” he said.

In this photo taken by an individual not employed by the Associated Press and obtained by the AP outside Iran, Iranians protests the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini after she was detained by the morality police last month, in Tehran, Oct. 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Middle East Images, File)

Podolyak also assessed that Russia has used up its first batch of 2,400 Iranian drones provided earlier this year and only has enough of its own cruise missiles for “two or three” more of the mass strikes it has recently carried out.

However, Iran has provided Russia with technology to enable it to manufacture the drones itself, he said.

Western officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Guardian they agreed with Poldoyak’s assessment that Russia used up its Iranian-made drone arsenal in two months of strikes mostly targeting Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, killing a number of civilians.

One official told the Guardian that Russia ran out of drones about two or three weeks ago and was waiting for a fresh supply, even as talks over the ballistic missiles continue.

Iran has not yet made a decision on whether to supply Russia with the requested missiles, Western governments believe.

“Iran will want to think carefully about what it’s committing, but there’ll also be a deeper conversation about what arrangement the Iranians and the Russians are coming to,” the official said.

Meanwhile, Germany’s DPA news agency on Wednesday cited a source at the United Nations as saying that Iran will send hundreds of drones and missiles to Russia.

“We know that Iran is planning to significantly increase its deliveries of unmanned missiles and missiles to Russia” to counter a severe shortage of such weapons in the Russian stores, the source said. “I don’t think they’ve shipped yet, but they’re definitely on the order books.”

A drone is seen in the sky seconds before it fired on buildings in Kyiv, Ukraine, on October 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

However, earlier this week, Yevgeny Silkin, of the Joint Forces Command for Strategic Communications of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, said that Russia still has Iranian drones but stopped using them because they don’t work effectively in the cold, Ukraine’s UNIAN news agency reported.

According to UNIAN, Iranian drones have not been used to attack Ukraine since November 17, the first day that snow began falling.

Recent days have also seen mysterious drone attacks on targets inside Russia, that Ukraine has not taken responsibility for but is widely assumed to have carried out.

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