Russian officials have visited Iran twice recently to assess combat drones, US national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Saturday, as Moscow seeks to bolster its arsenal for the war in Ukraine.
Iran’s military organized two displays for Russian delegations at the Kashan airfield, on June 8 and July 5, Sullivan said in a statement. Satellite images released by the White House show Shahed-191 and Shahed-129 drones at or flying near the site.
The White House said earlier this week that it believes Moscow is seeking to acquire hundreds of drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and that Tehran is ready to train Russian forces to use them as soon as this month.
“We assess that an official Russian delegation recently received a display of Iranian strike-capable UAVs,” Sullivan said Saturday.
“We released these images captured in June showing Iranian UAVs that the Russian government delegation saw that day. This suggests continued Russian interest in acquiring Iranian strike-capable UAVs.”
John Kirby, a spokesman for the National Security Council, told CNN this week that the drones can be used for both reconnaissance and munitions delivery.
“It was important to make it clear to the world that we know Russia needs these additional capabilities,” Kirby said Tuesday. “It’s expanding its resources at a fast pace.”
The United States and its allies have recently provided Ukrainian forces with long-range precision weapons, such as Himars precision-guided missiles, increasing their ability to strike Russian targets and repel Moscow’s escalating offensive in the east.
Iran said on Tuesday that “no special development” has taken place in technological cooperation with Russia after the invasion of Ukraine in February.
Drones have played a crucial role on both sides of the war in Ukraine, from firing missiles from a distance to dropping small bombs on targets and conducting reconnaissance. Ukrainian forces have had particular success using Turkish-made Bayraktar UAVs, and the United States and other allies have supplied kyiv with various types of smaller drones.
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