Russia and Iran exploring joint production of lethal drones, says US

Putin and Reisi
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) meets with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi (L) in Samarkand, Uzbekistan on September 15, 2022PRESIDENCY OF RUSSIA/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
  • Russia and Iran are exploring the joint production of lethal drones, NBC News reported.

  • "Iran has become Russia's top military backer," said US national security council spokesperson John Kirby.

  • Russia launched fresh attacks on Ukraine on Saturday using Iranian-made drones, per reports.

Russia is considering collaborating with Iran on weapons development, which would include establishing a joint production line for lethal drones, according to senior US officials, per NBC News.

"This partnership poses a threat not just to Ukraine but to Iran's neighbors in the region," said one senior official, according to NBC News.

This was later confirmed by US national security council spokesperson John Kirby, who said on Friday that the US had seen reports that the two countries are looking into setting up a drone assembly line in Russia, per BBC News.

"Russia is seeking to collaborate with Iran in areas like weapons development, training," he said, per the media outlet.

"Iran has become Russia's top military backer," Kirby continued, according to BBC News. "Russia's been using Iranian drones to strike energy infrastructure, depriving millions of Ukrainians of power, heat, critical services. People in Ukraine today are dying as a result of Iran's actions."

The Wall Street Journal reported that Russia launched new attacks on Ukraine on Saturday morning using Iranian-made drones. Ukraine's southern command said it shot down 10 unmanned aerial systems in the regions of Kherson, Mykolaiv, and Odesa, according to the paper.

Fire on the left side of the photo because of an explosion caused by Russian drones.
Russia attacks Ukraine with dronesReuters

The UK's ambassador to the UN, Barbara Woodward, said on Friday that Iran had transferred hundreds of drones to Russia since August, per The Guardian. She added that these had been used to "kill civilians and illegally target civilian infrastructure" in Ukraine, The Guardian reported.

Woodward also said that Russia wants "hundreds" of ballistic missiles from Iran and offers "unprecedented" military support in return.

For months, Russia has been using Iranian-made drones — most notably the Shahed-136 suicide drone — to carry out deadly attacks on Ukrainian cities, Insider's Jake Epstein reported.

On Tuesday, an unnamed Western official said that Moscow appeared to be running out of Iranian-made drones, but ABC News reported that it anticipated a "resupply."

Iran initially denied sending any drones to Russia before later admitting that it had supplied some before the invasion of Ukraine, BBC News reported.

On Saturday, Australia's foreign minister, Penny Wong, said in a statement: "The supply of drones to Russia is evidence of the role Iran plays in destabilizing global security. This listing highlights that those who provide material support to Russia will face consequences."

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