White House expects Iran to deliver 'hundreds' of weapons to Russia as Putin announces Tehran trip
US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters the White House had "information" indicating Tehran will provide Moscow with "hundreds" of unmanned aerial vehicles, including weapons-capable drones.
Sullivan said it was unclear whether Iran had already provided weapons to Russian forces, but that the expected shipment could take place as soon as this month.
"Our information indicates that the Iranian government is preparing to provide Russia with up to several hundred UAVs, including weapons-capable UAVs on an expedited timeline," the US official told reporters.
It’s just "one example of how Russia is looking to countries like Iran for capabilities that…have been used before we got the ceasefire in places in Yemen, to attack Saudi Arabia," Sullivan said.
This is the first time the White House has publicly accused Tehran, a long-time Russian ally, of aiding Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Some analysts have disputed the claims, saying Russia already has such weaponry but after heavy losses, there have been signs of shortages on the battlefields of Ukraine.
Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February. It has since used relentless offensive tactics - deployed repeatedly in Syria during its allyship with the Syrian regime- to destroy Ukrainian towns and force millions from their homes.
Western military reports this month concluded that Moscow is fast running out of ammunition because of its relentless attrition in the eastern Donbas region.
Tehran, through the invasion, has echoed Moscow's claims that the war is a "special military operation" necessitated by NATO’s expansion and western aggression. Despite a tranche of new sanctions on Moscow, economic relations and high-level diplomatic talks between the two nations have persisted.
This week, the Kremlin announced that Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit Iran to attend a trilateral meeting with Iranian and Turkish leaders, the so-called Astana format of meetings for Syria-related talks.
The Kremlin's announcement came hours before US President Joe Biden heads to Israel and then Saudi Arabia.
The trip is expected to focus on countering Iranian influence in the region, with discussions on the finalisation of the Iran nuclear deal and avoiding further escalations in tensions between Tehran and its neighbours.