The training of Russian troops in piloting Iranian drones may start this month, a senior US official claimed
Iran is “preparing to provide Russia” with hundreds of drones, including armed ones, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan claimed during a press briefing on Monday. He seemed to imply that the unmanned aircraft are meant to replace Russian losses in Ukraine.
Sullivan noted that the delivery is supposed to be done “on an expedited timeline,” suggesting that some of the drones may have been handed over already. He added that Russian operators will be receiving training on how to pilot the unmanned aircraft this month.
The US official called the information “pretty newsworthy and noteworthy,” but offered no evidence or details about how the US reached its conclusion. He also used the opportunity to reiterate US accusations that Iran had used its drone capabilities to attack Saudi Arabia “before we got the ceasefire in Yemen.”
Sullivan was referring to the seven-year long military intervention by Riyadh and its allies against Houthi rebels. The action, which was supported by the US, and the Saudi blockade of Yemen resulted in a large-scale humanitarian disaster.
The Houthi carried out several drone and missile attacks against Saudi targets, which the US blamed on Iran. The latest ceasefire in Yemen was brokered in April and extended for two more months in early June.
The administration of US President Joe Biden took credit for the truce, stating that its new approach to Saudi Arabia was bearing fruit. Sullivan cited the accord as an achievement as he defended Biden’s upcoming visit to Riyadh, which was organized despite his campaign promise to make the monarchy a “pariah.”
The US national security adviser asserted the claim about Iranian drones, as he expressed confidence that with American help Ukraine would be able to “effectively defend and sustain its capital” Kiev from Russia.
Ukrainian forces have been losing territory in the east, but now the Ukrainian military claim they plan a major counteroffensive in the south, with as many as one million troops deployed for the mission.
Moscow and Tehran would not immediately comment on the US claims. Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to visit Iran next week, where he will hold a trilateral meeting with his Iranian and Turkish counterparts, Ebrahim Raisi and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Kremlin said on Tuesday.