The Iranian government is preparing to provide Russia with up to several hundred UAVs, including ones that are weapons-capable to use in Ukraine, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters in Washington.
“Russia deepening an alliance with Iran to kill Ukrainians is something that the whole world should look at and see as a profound threat,” he said.
That deepening alliance was in evidence most recently when Vladimir Putin met in Tehran with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. In addition to Russia and Iran claiming they reached a $40 billion deal in oil and gas development, the Supreme Leader offered his support to Putin for Russia’s war against Ukraine, saying Russia was forced to act to defend itself from NATO.
State Department Spokesperson Ned Price declared it was “striking” to hear the Supreme Leader “endorsing Putin’s brutal invasion of Ukraine,” after attempting to maintain a veil of neutrality in the past. “It’s now clear that was entirely hollow. Iran has now cast its lot with a small number of countries who wore that veil of neutrality only to end up supporting President Putin in his war against Ukraine and the Ukrainian people,” he said.
What is also clear is that Iran is teaming up with Russia because of the increasing isolation of both countries. Spokesperson Price noted that turning to Russia is neither necessary nor advantageous for Iran. “Iran has a choice,” he said. “It can continue to opt for a position of relative dependency on a country like Russia, which…is not a reliable, dependable partner for any country around the world, or it can choose the path of diplomacy. It can choose to engage in that path, and specifically it can choose to take up the [nuclear] deal that’s been on the table for some time now, to have a relationship – an economic relationship – with other countries around the world that is different from the one it has now, different from the one that has forced it into the arms of President Putin.”
In an interview on CNN, U.S. Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley said, “That’s a choice that rests squarely on the shoulders of Iran’s leadership.”