According to a senior U.S. official, Iran intends to equip Russia with hundreds of weaponized drones for use in Ukraine.
"The Iranian regime is planning to expeditiously give Russia with up to several hundred UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles], including armed UAVs," Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser of the White House, stated
Sullivan said that information received by the United States supported the notion that Russia's heavy bombardments in Ukraine, which have allowed it to consolidate gains in the country's east over the past few weeks, were "coming at a cost to the maintenance of its own weapons."
Iran is preparing to educate Russian personnel in the use of these UAVs, with the first training sessions scheduled to begin in early July, Sullivan said, citing intelligence reports.
Sullivan stated that it was unclear whether Iran had already transferred any drones to Russia. He emphasized that Houthi rebels in Yemen had employed Iranian drones to target Saudi Arabia.
Drones have played a pivotal role on both sides of the Ukraine conflict, shooting missiles from a distance, dropping tiny bombs on targets, and conducting reconnaissance for artillery and ground forces.
Ukraine's armed forces have had great success with Turkish-made Bayraktar armed combat UAVs, and the United States and other allies have supplied Kyiv with several smaller drones.
"From our standpoint, we will continue to do everything we can to help Ukraine maintain an effective defense and to assist the Ukrainians in demonstrating that the Russian endeavor to wipe Ukraine off the map cannot succeed," Sullivan said.
On the eve of President Joe Biden's travel to Israel and Saudi Arabia, where Iran's nuclear program and malign operations in the area will be a central topic of conversation, Sullivan's disclosure has been made public.
Israel and Saudi Arabia have resisted joining global attempts to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine owing to their internal interests. As a result, the US has decided to announce publicly that the two countries' biggest regional foe was assisting to rearm Russia.
Russia's push in eastern Ukraine is certain to continue, despite Ukrainian resistance bolstered by new deployments of western-supplied artillery, and the Ukrainian army has warned that Russian soldiers are ready to unleash their biggest attacks to date in the Donetsk region.
During a visit to Kyiv, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said that his country would provide Ukraine with more long-range artillery and a €200 million (US$201 million) aid package.