Russia is now using drones purchased from Iran in Ukraine as the war nears its sixth month mark, according to an adviser for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to the Ukrainian President’s Office, said on Friday that Iran had provided Russia with 46 drones, though it’s unclear if that’s the total number of drones Iran agreed to supply or if more are on its way, according to the Institute for the Study of War’s latest update.
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Some of the drones are older-generation “Shahed 129” heavy strike drones, though it’s unclear how many of the total are among this version.
U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan first informed reporters about declassified U.S. intelligence that indicated a possible drone sale between Iran and Russia on July 11. At the time, he said Iran was prepared to supply them with “several hundred [unmanned aerial vehicles], including weapons capable UAVs on an expedited timeline.”
Sullivan also noted that Iran planned to train Russian forces to use the drones, though he was unable to say whether that had begun. He said the initial training was “slated to begin as soon as early July,” though the administration has not indicated since then whether that has commenced.
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A senior military official and senior defense official declined to share with reporters any additional updates on the intelligence stream during the department’s most recent briefing with reporters on July 29.
Administration and defense officials have repeatedly implied that Russian President Vladimir Putin, who traveled to Iran last month, must be getting desperate if he’s turning to Iran as a lifeline.