The Ukrainian government and its Western allies have alleged that Russia, running low on missiles, has turned to Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones, in particular, to supplement its arsenal, including during its recent wave of “devasting” strikes on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure in retaliation for damage to the Kerch Bridge between Crimea and the Russian mainland.
Moreover, it is now claimed that “[u]p to 50” specialists from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps — the military organisation tasked with preserving the Islamist character of the Iranian government — are actually in Crimea are the southern Kherson region, overseeing and perhaps even personally controlling drone launches against Ukrainian targets.
“We have been concerned for some time that IRGC specialists are helping Russia in their terrible attacks on civilians and they are of course being targeted,” a Ukrainian military source told the Daily Mirror, a leading left-wing British tabloid.
“At least one of the Iranian training teams has been hit recently and they are actively being hunted down,” the source claimed.
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Claims of IRGC involvement in the war in Ukraine were also reported by Yahoo! News, citing the U.S.-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW).
In an October 12th update on the course of the war, the ISW said the Ukrainian Resistance Center had stated that “Iranian instructors directly control the launch of drones on civilian targets in Ukraine, including in Mykolaiv and Odesa oblasts” — although the institute was careful to say only that it “may” be the case that Russia has “imported Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)-affiliated personnel to occupied areas in Ukraine to train Russian troops” in its final analysis.
Iran, for its part, denies having exported any drones whatsoever for use in the Russo-Ukrainian war, and the Kremlin has described reports of Iranian drone purchases as “bogus”.
France has led Western governments in complaining that any trade in military drones between Moscow and Tehran would violate a United Nations Security Council resolution connected to the Iran nuclear deal.
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