Russia and Iran defiant as the West presses Ukraine drone sanctions

Russia warned the United Nations on Wednesday not to investigate alleged Iranian-made drone strikes in Ukraine, joining Tehran in denying the origin of the weapons as the European Union prepared new sanctions.

The United States, France and the United Kingdom – permanent members of the Security Council – requested the session to express their alarm over the drone shipments, which according to Western officials violate a UN resolution, although Russia has veto power to block any eventual request. of new sanctions.

Both the European Union (EU) and the United States said they had evidence that Iran supplied the Shahed-136, low-cost drones that explode on landing and are blamed for the death of five people on Monday in the Ukrainian capital kyiv, as well as the destruction of civil infrastructure.

Ukraine, which has decided to break diplomatic ties with Tehran, claims its military has shot down more than 220 Iranian drones in just over a month, and images have surfaced that appear to show a link to Iran.

But the Russian diplomat Dmitri Polianski denounced the "baseless accusations and conspiracy theories"citing as evidence that the Russian word for geraniums was written on the drones, formally known as unmanned aerial vehicles.

"UAVs used by the Russian Army in Ukraine are made in Russia"Polianski told reporters outside the Security Council.

"I would advise you not to underestimate the technological capabilities of the Russian drone industry".

Although he warned against any UN investigation on the ground in Ukraine as part of the application of existing sanctions on Iran.

"The team is not mandated to conduct investigations; He is not part of the sanctions committee. So this would be absolutely unprofessional and political"he indicated.

If the UN Secretary General or Secretary General Antonio Guterres goes ahead, "we will have to reassess our collaboration with them, which does not benefit anyone"Polianski continued.

Iran’s envoy to the UN, Amir Saeid Iravani, also rejected the "baseless and unsubstantiated claims" on drone transfers and said Tehran, which has abstained from votes on the Ukraine war, wanted a "peaceful resolution" Of the same.

The alleged arms transfers come as Iran faces mounting pressure over its crackdown on the biggest protests in years, sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old detained by the notorious "morality police" of the Islamic Republic.

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Response "fast and firm" 

The EU is expected to approve drone sanctions before a summit in Brussels on Thursday.

A list seen by AFP showed that the EU was planning sanctions against three senior military officials, including General Mohammad Hossein Bagheri, chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces.

In Brussels, Nabila Massrali, a spokeswoman for the EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said the bloc had met "sufficient evidence" showing that the drones used by Russia against Ukraine were provided by Iran and said that it was preparing "a clear, swift and firm response from the EU".

The punitive measures would also affect drone manufacturer Shahed Aviation Industries, an aerospace company linked to the powerful Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

The United States said the Security Council will hear from an expert on the transfer of the drones.

"We have seen over the course of the last month that there is ample evidence that Russia is using Iranian drones in cruel and deliberate attacks against the people of Ukraine."State Department spokesman Vedant Patel told reporters in Washington.

"We will convey these grave concerns about Russia’s acquisition of UAVs from Iran in clear violation of UN Security Council Resolution 2231.".

The 2015 resolution greenlit a nuclear deal with a now-moribund Iran.

The resolution’s ban on Iran’s conventional arms sales expired in 2020, despite attempts by the then US administration of Republican President Donald Trump.

The United States did not explain how Iran would be violating the regulations, but the resolution still prohibits until October 2023 any transfer that could benefit nuclear-capable ballistic missiles, unless there is permission from the Security Council.

The crackdown on protests in Iran prompted new Western sanctions over human rights abuses and overshadowed efforts by US President Joe Biden to restore the 2015 nuclear deal, from which the United States withdrew under the administration. of Trump.

Western officials have pointed to Iranian drones as evidence that Russia, historically one of the world’s largest arms exporters, has seen its arsenal greatly reduced by battlefield losses.

The United States has released intelligence that says Iranian drones have frequently failed and that Russia has also turned to North Korea. According to reports, China has rejected calls to send weapons.

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