Iraq News

Iran's international isolation deepens as its drones bolster Russia's invasion

By Al-Mashareq and AFP

Iran's Shahed 129 drone is displayed in Tehran on February 11, 2016. [Atta Kenare/AFP]

Iran's Shahed 129 drone is displayed in Tehran on February 11, 2016. [Atta Kenare/AFP]

Iran has continued to burn bridges with the international community via its military support for Russia, which has in recent days staged attacks in Ukraine using Iranian-made drones, observers said.

Ukraine on Sunday (September 25) announced that the southern port city of Odesa had been attacked overnight by three Iranian-made drones.

"Odesa was attacked again by enemy kamikaze drones," the Ukrainian army's Operational Command South said in a Facebook post.

"The enemy hit the administrative building in the city centre three times," it said. "One drone was shot down by air defence forces."

No casualties were recorded, it said.

"These were Iranian drones," a Ukrainian South Command spokeswoman, Natalya Gumenyuk, later told AFP.

On Friday, a Russian attack with an Iranian-made drone killed a civilian in Odesa.

Also on Friday, four Iranian-made drones were shot down in the south of the country, according to Ukraine's armed forces.

"Odesa was attacked by kamikaze drones from the sea," the Ukrainian military said in a statement.

"Two drones destroyed an administrative building in the port area and rescue services are putting out the flames. One civilian was killed. One 'Shahed-136' drone was shot down over the sea by air defence forces," it said.

Last week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said seven Iranian-made drones had been shot down in recent days over cities from the eastern front to the southern coast, the New York Times reported.

Kamikaze drones, also known as "suicide drones" or loitering munitions, fly directly to the target and destroy it autonomously.

They are not easy to detect by radar.

Shahed-136, a "suicide drone" with a purported 2,500km range, is one of the most dangerous drones in the Iranian fleet.

Consequences for Iran

Kyiv said Friday it would reduce Iran's diplomatic presence in Ukraine over its supply of drones to Russia.

Ukraine's Foreign Ministry said "the temporary charge d'affaires of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Ukraine was summoned" over the issue, which "deals a serious blow to Ukraine-Iran relations".

The envoy was told the supply of Iranian weapons to Russia "directly contradicts the position of neutrality, respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine", the ministry said in a statement.

"In response to such an unfriendly act, the Ukrainian side decided to deprive the ambassador of Iran in Ukraine of accreditation, as well as to significantly reduce the number of diplomatic personnel of the Iranian embassy in Kyiv", it said.

Even before Russia launched its war on Ukraine, Iran's relations with Ukraine had grown frosty, following an "accidental" January 2020 launch of missiles at a civilian airliner by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

Flight 752, a Ukraine International Airlines jetliner, was struck by two missiles and crashed shortly after taking off from the Tehran airport on January 8, 2020.

Iran admitted days later that the IRGC had accidentally shot down the Kyiv-bound jetliner, killing all 176 on board.

Iran's decision to supply Russia with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), commonly known as drones, already has triggered consequences for the Islamic Republic.

The White House in July revealed that Russia was seeking hundreds of Iranian drones, including weapons-capable UAVs, for its war on Ukraine, on an "expedited timeline".

The United States on September 8 sanctioned an Iranian air transportation service provider that helped ship drones to Russia for use in Ukraine.

It also blacklisted three companies and one individual involved in the research, development, production and procurement of drones and components, including the Shahed drone series, for the IRGC, IRGC Aerospace Force and IRGC Navy.

Tehran-based Safiran Airport Services also was blacklisted for its role in providing UAVs to Russia. It co-ordinated Russian military flights between Iran and Russia, including those that carried UAVs, personnel and related equipment.

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