Ukraine has been outspoken about the alleged use of Iranian drones, and the European Union is considering sanctions against Tehran.
Tehran, Iran The Iranian government says it is ready to talk with Ukrainian officials to address allegations that it is arming Russia and plans to intensify military cooperation with it, as the war in Ukraine approaches the end of its eighth month.
In a statement issued late on Tuesday evening, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser al-Kinani reiterated Tehran’s denial of sending drones to Russia for use in the conflict, and for the first time expressed his readiness to “dialogue and negotiate with Ukraine to clarify these allegations.”
This came after Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Monday that he had proposed to President Volodymyr Zelensky to formally sever diplomatic ties with Iran after the recent Russian attacks that killed several people and damaged infrastructure.
Kuleba said the Ukrainian government had no doubt that Iranian Shahed-136 “Kamikaze” planes were used in Monday’s attacks, and he believes Tehran may continue to supply Moscow with weapons.
Separately, the New York Times on Tuesday quoted unnamed US officials as saying that Iran, after selling drones to Russia, has sent Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps trainers to Russia-annexed Crimea to help Russian forces operate them. This came on the heels of reports by other Western media that Tehran was preparing to send more drones, in addition to transferring short and medium-range surface-to-surface Fateh and Zollfager missiles.
In a speech on Wednesday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei appeared to be referring to alleged sales of drones to Russia.
“When pictures of our advanced missile equipment and drones were published a few years ago, [our enemies] They said they are photoshopped. Now they say Iranian drones are very dangerous and ask why you sell them,” without directly mentioning the war in Ukraine.
Ukraine accuses Russia of using witness-136, albeit renamed Jeeran-2 with its tail numbers.
The relatively cheap and fairly accurate drone is able to fly long distances before hitting its targets with the built-in explosives.
Ukraine, which downgraded diplomatic ties with Tehran last month, has been outspoken about the alleged use of Iranian drones, with Zelensky and his top officials blaming them several times for the attacks on the capital, Kyiv, and elsewhere.
“Killer witness,” the Ukrainian Defense Ministry wrote in a tweet on Twitter last week showing a photo of a young pilot who supposedly shot down several drones.
The Kremlin said on Tuesday that Russian technology with Russian names was being “used” in Ukraine, and referred questions to the Defense Ministry.
Ukraine on Monday called on the European Union to impose sanctions on Iran over alleged arms sales, and Kuleba said he was ready to provide evidence. The bloc’s foreign ministers took no action during a meeting in Luxembourg, but foreign policy coordinator Josep Borrell said the EU was reviewing the evidence at its disposal and would impose new sanctions if it could independently verify arms sales to Russia for war.
But the bloc imposed sanctions on a large number of Iranian officials and entities due to what it described as the “brutal suppression of protests” that erupted across Iran a month ago after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of the Iranian authorities. The so-called “morality police”.
While they have repeatedly denied any arms sales to Moscow for use in Ukraine, Iranian officials have said the country has active “defense cooperation” with Russia, without going into details.
Iran and Russia are increasingly getting closer, with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabadollahian saying on Tuesday that a long-term cooperation agreement that has been in the works since last year will be completed by the end of the current Iranian calendar year in March 2023.
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