The full extent of the destruction Russia is visiting on Ukraine by its brutal invasion cannot yet be determined.
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said in April there have been over 22,000 recorded civilian casualties so far in Ukraine, but the OHCHR believes the actual toll is significantly higher. Apartment buildings have been bombed; power stations and other critical infrastructure destroyed; hospitals and medical care facilities attacked.
At a briefing to reporters, National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby raised the alarm once again over the growing military partnership that helps Russia wreak such havoc in Ukraine: Russia’s partnership with Iran.
In addition to artillery tank rounds, “Since August, Iran has provided Russia with more than 400 UAVs primarily of the Shahed variety," said Coordinator Kirby. "Russia has expended most of these UAVs, using them to target Ukrainian critical infrastructure inside Ukraine. By providing Russia with these UAVs, Iran has been directly enabling Russia's war of aggression in Ukraine.”
Now, said Coordinator Kirby, Russia is interested in acquiring more advanced versions of the drones that are “more capable and more lethal.”
Iran also benefits from the partnership. Russia, he noted, has been offering Iran unprecedented defense support, including through missiles, electronics, and air defense, thereby, “directly enabling Iran’s destabilizing activities in the Middle East.”
State Department Principal Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel also expressed concern over the deepening cooperation between Russia and Iran. “It is dangerous. It is a threat to the countries in those regions,” he said. “It is a threat to the international community. We are talking about a security cooperation that flows both ways, from Iran to Russia and from Russia to Iran.”
Since September 2022, the United States has sanctioned more than two dozen individuals and entities over the weapons transfers between Iran and Russia.
Coordinator Kirby pledged the United States will continue to work with allies and partners to hold accountable those “involved in the transfer of Iranian military equipment to Russia for use in Ukraine.”
The partnership that promotes a rising civilian death toll in Ukraine and further destabilization in the Middle East must be disrupted.